Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Common Sense Marriage

The statistics are daunting. We constantly hear that half of all marriages end in divorce. I don’t even think it’s alarming any more. It’s just a given.

But, as Ted Lowe of MarriedPeople recently said, “I don’t believe that a marriage is supposed to be a statistic.”

So, how do we prevent the “good marriages” from becoming a divorce statistic? The answers are probably simpler than you think. At the end of the day, it’s all about common sense, which is likely to yield some pretty uncommon results.

1. Treat your spouse the way you want to be treated. Talk to him or her with love and respect. If you hate to be talked to sarcastically, chances are your spouse doesn’t care for it either. This doesn’t mean you have to use dignified or formal vocabulary. It’s all about the attitude of the heart.

2. “Cheat work” with your spouse, not the other way around. Striking a balance between your home life and your career is a challenge. However, few people, if any, ever regret cheating their work by spending more time with their families. On the other hand, the world is full of spouses who regret cheating their families by working 70-80+ hours per week, and missing important family events, ball games, etc.

3. Put the cell phone or computer away – especially during “alone time.” It’s bad enough if you work an extra 20-30 hours at the office. But, bringing your work home, and constantly checking your emails and texts from business associates may be just as troublesome. How do YOU feel when you are with someone who is always checking their phone, and won’t give you the attention you desire? It’s disheartening, and you likely don’t want to spend much time with that person in the future. Why should your marriage be any different?

4. Have fun. When you got married, did you think you would lead a dull, disconnected, aggravating life with your spouse? If you did, you wouldn’t have married them! So, rekindle the flames by making it a point to have a good time with your spouse. Stale marriages lack laughter and excitement. Go places, laugh, be merry, and show your spouse exactly how much you truly enjoy being with them!

5. Make your spouse the only “man” or “woman” in your life. We have a rule here at my office – men and women cannot ride in the same car alone, and they cannot be in the same office alone with a door shut. Sound a tad extreme? To some it may seem silly, but why ever put yourself in a compromising situation? Affairs rarely, if ever, happen in an instant. They usually evolve over time, and after several instances of spending time alone together. If you avoid the first time being alone with a member of the opposite sex, you won’t ever get to that dangerous fourth or fifth time. Put strict – and safe – guidelines in place now to avoid having a devastating crash later.

6. Do it because you love him/her. Does the house need to be vacuumed? Trash need to be taken out? Crumbs on the floor need to be swept up? Often, we’ll see things that need to be done, and grumble against our spouse. We do it so we can hold it over their heads, or so we won’t get yelled at. But, one man recently told me about a similar issue at his house. “I walked into the kitchen and saw all the dirty dishes in the sink. So, I went over and I washed them. And, I didn’t do it so I wouldn’t have to hear her complain about it. I did it so she wouldn’t have to clean them herself.”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hidden Gems

I just finished reading Tony Ingle's book, I Don't Mind Hitting Bottom, I Just Hate Dragging. Amy bought it for me for Christmas this past year. She has worked at Kennesaw State University for nearly 11 years now, and knows just about everyone who is on staff there - including Men's Head Basketball Coach Tony Ingle.

I truly picked up the book off my shelf last week for entertainment purposes. I have always heard that Coach Ingle is a witty guy, and I was in the need of a good laugh. Little did I know that I would learn some valuable lessons along the way.

Coach's story is among the most inspirational I have ever read. Of all the "comeback" and "down and out" stories that exist, his may be the most compelling - for a lot of reasons. You'll have to read to find out why I say that. And, while there are thousands of potential take-aways from the book, I found three in particular that will remain with me:

1. You can't be tired when it comes to your kids. Let me put this a different way: You can be tired, even feel like you are about to keel over. But, you can't say that to your kids. When you have worked all day, and walk through the front door at 6 or 7 p.m., you are ready to take a load off. Relax. Chill. But, your kids haven't seen you all day. They are excited you are home! If you want to do the right thing, you'll fight through it and play with your kids. Read to them, wrestle with them, shoot hoops with them, play cars in the floor with them. They don't deserve the get the "leftovers" from your day. Re-energize with a cup of coffee or Powerade...and spend that time with your little ones!

2. Tony Ingle says, "You are your habits." So, if you have a habit of starting things and never finishing them, you are a quitter. If you have a habit of not telling the truth, you are a liar. If you have a habit of not giving your best effort, you are an underachiever. You could fill in a million blanks here, but if we make negative behaviors into habits, then we become defined my those actions. On the flip side, if I make a habit of pouring my heart and soul into kids' lives, then that is who I will become. If I make a habit of tithing, then I will be a giver. It works both ways. Good habits make a great witness.

3. Relationships are critical. No matter how bad things got for Tony Ingle, he had a support system to help carry him through the darkest times in his life. It began in the home. Because he didn't compromise his family for his "dream" of winning a National Championship, they were there with him through thick and thin. Further, Tony was a master at networking and developing lifelong friendships with people wherever he went. Because Tony was a good friend to these people, they went to bat for him constantly. Further, he tirelessly volunteered at camps and clinics, where he met some of the most influential coaches and personalities in collegiate sports. Building relationships takes a lot of time and energy. People don't exist to serve you. You exist to serve others. And, when you do, people know you care, and they begin to care about you in return.

Pick up the book at the Kennesaw State University bookstore. You'll laugh a lot, and you may even shed a tear. But, you'll be better for reading Tony Ingle's story. And, if you're smart, you'll follow his lead by being fully present with your kids, embracing good habits, and investing in others' lives along the way.