Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Women want men who are boxers but you need to choose which one

Let's face it. Women need protectors. I do not mean this as in women are weak and cannot protect themselves but as in all women want to feel safe. My wife was a Marine so I know she could protect me almost as much as I can protect her but she still needs me to be able to be there and to fight for her when needed. In that sense, my wife wants me to be a boxer.
How she sees me sometimes when she is ready to talk.

They also need boxers of a different sense too. They want the loyal, loving, playful, happy, capability to listen without saying anything back feelings that they get from the Boxer breed of dogs. 

It is up to you to choose which one she needs and when to transition that role to the other one. 

This is a big problem for me. As a matter of fact we had an argument last week where all I needed to do was listen but I laced up my gloves ready for a fight instead. 

Why is that so hard to do, to just listen? For me it comes from thinking in literal, technical and logical terms. What I mean is if she says Situation A makes her unhappy, I tell her to change Situation A. To me it is that simple. When she tells me that just changing Situation A is not what she wants then I become confused because not changing that leads to her unhappiness. Plus when I suggest something and it is not followed then I begin to wonder why my advice is not good enough and it can lead to an argument.

It is hard to me because as an individual I want to change what I can to affect my mood or happiness. it is hard for me because my wife does not think exactly like me and that creates a problem. In my mind, I think perfectly. I think rationally and I think right. When she does not think exactly like me, especially after I tell her how to think like me, it bothers me.

My wife is afraid to talk to me sometimes for fear that I will bring out the boxer with his gloved laced up, Vaseline on his face so the punches can slide off and he can keep fighting. She doesn't need or want that guy around unless he has to be and to be honest, he does not belong in our communication. He needs to pull a Rocky 6 and hang those gloves up already. 

How I need to look instead
When my wife communicates with me what she wants is a sweet and mature Boxer dog that will calmly and wholeheartedly listen to her without speaking, making eye contact, and occasionally giving a kiss or two. Not be submissive like a dog but she needs me to simply listen and to let her know I hear her. She needs to know that if she needs it, that Rocky will put his gloves on again to fight for whatever she needs, but that she can talk without him always lurking in the shadows waiting to bust in to the room. 

As the man that wants her to be honest and open with me I need to make sure she is comfortable talking to me. I want her to know that she can come talk to me about everything from a crappy drive home to a major life decision and I will be there to just listen and offer support. 

So that is my homework for now; Learn how to communicate and understand that not everything is a fight. 

I am sure everyone could benefit from doing that.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Winning your wife back often means repairing other relationships

When I decided to leave Shannon in 2010, I didn't just hurt her but also her family. Here was this man who promised to take care of their daughter/sister/cousin/niece/aunt and the only thing he did was break her heart. In my selfish state I did not think of the outside relationships I would also ruin. Granted, at the time in my "I only care about me" point of life I was not thinking of them at all, it will be those relationships that will take the most time after Shannon has fully healed.

That makes perfect sense doesn't it? Her family is supposed to be her biggest support system and backup. I should know because at one point before I hurt her I was her family and BIGGEST supporter. When I left Shannon and then cheated on her I ruined the trust between her and I but also between her family and I.

Shannon and I moved to South Carolina in 2005 and since then (and before then obviously) her aunt and uncle were constantly there for her. They would text constantly, we would all email back and forth, they would send card to all of us, and many other things. When I left Shannon they came in and tried to support her as best as anyone could. They drove from their home about 10 hours away to give her comfort and help with the boys. They came to let Shannon know that they were there for her and the boys no matter what. They even reached out to me to try to talk sense in to me and subsequently tell me how disappointed they were in me.

Simply put, they were there for Shannon when I treated her like crap.

When Shannon told them of her plans to give me another shot, they were not happy. Who would be? I cheated on their niece, controlled the money, and caused Shannon stress that she should have never had to experience. They told her that they were not happy about it, and tried to warn her that if it happened once it will happen again but they also told her that they would be there for her.

And they have been. They text, send cards to the whole family, call and are here for her. They also have made it clear they do not trust me, do not want to hear from me and would rather I have left Shannon alone after causing her so much pain.

I know I may never be liked by them and I expect that. The one thing I don't want is for this to be held against Shannon for taking me back. I wrote an email to them today apologizing for what I did and acknowledging that I hurt Shannon and them. I miss emailing them and telling them about what is going on with our family, but more importantly, I miss the relationship they had with Shannon.

I have driven a wedge between them to a point, and I want to make that wedge slowly go away. I know that in order to repair the relationship with Shannon that it means I need to at least acknowledge that I hurt others in her family when I let them down.

It may never work, and they may spend the rest of their lives waiting for the next time I will hurt Shannon. They may spend the rest of their lives wearing a fake smile when Shannon and I come to visit.

I cannot control anything other than how I handle the rest of our lives and our marriage. I can promise to treat her perfectly, but I am human and still make mistakes. I yell and get angry just like everyone else. But I can control how I choose to try to repair the relationships I ruined with her family.

So from here on out, I plan to at least reach out to her family and apologize and acknowledge how I hurt all of them when I hurt Shannon.

I probably should have started with this step closer to the beginning, but just like our marriage this is a learning experience and I am not always going to get it right.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Childhood Memories and Help from Strangers

This weekend Shannon and I were talking about our childhood and memories that we had not told each other yet. Not that they were anything crazy we just had not thought to share. Let me tell you now that it was one of the BEST conversations I have ever had with her. We were laughing and smiling and at the end of it, she was crying.

She brought up a memory about her father and she cried.

Her father died when Shannon was only 15. Right when a young woman needs their dad the most, she lost hers. It was hard on her entire family and even though it has been 23 years since it is still hard. For understandable reasons she finds it hard to visit his grave at the Veteran's Cemetery in Maryland.

So I thought, "Why not bring it to her?"

I decided that I would go on to a forum for Maryland, and ask if a complete stranger would be willing to go to the cemetery to do a few things. In a move that restored my faith in humanity someone quickly volunteered. I asked this man if he would take pictures of the grave, place flowers, and do a pencil rubbing of the stone to ship to us.

This morning I checked my email and saw that he had emailed me. He made the trip this morning and got everything I asked and more. He noticed the grave next to her Father's had the same last name, so he got pictures of that one too. He really restored my faith in random acts of kindness, and I totally plan to do something for someone when I get the chance.

I guess the moral of this is you should ask your partner to share something that they may have never shared. It may seem trivial to them, or embarrassing, or meaningless, but ask to know something they have never shared. Who knows, it may bring up a way for you to do something extra special for them. At the very LEAST, it will help you connect and continue making sure you are each other's best friend.

I love you Shannon.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Promote your relationship

Social media is THE thing right now. Facebook, Twitter, and all of the others that people use help you connect with old friends, complete strangers and everyone in between. But as a couple, are you using it right? Well right can be defined differently for different couples so instead, are you using it to promote your relationship?

First off, let me acknowledge that I understand everyone is different. That may not be your thing or whatever, and that is fine. But I am referring to the couples who are like that, not opposed to doing posts and things of that nature. 

Whenever I log on, I see postings for many different things; "Come to this event, like this page, sign this petition, I just did this, my dog ate this, i hate my job," etc. But what I don't see enough of is "I love my wife, My wife is awesome because, going on a date with my wife," and things like that.

It is no secret that social media is a major reason for problems in marriages now. According to recent studies, around 30 percent of marital issues result from the misuse of social media. This can include messaging old boyfriends or girlfriends, contacting people you used to have a thing for, or just flirting for no reason.

Sure, some of it is harmless and innocent, but it opens the door if the intent is misleading.

My advice is to simply promote your relationship. Shannon and I have no problem posting things in the open. Silly things, lovey things, it doesn't matter. We put it on there because it is fun/funny, and we have nothing to hide. That works for us. Sometimes we are sitting on the same couch, phones or laptops out, going back and forth on Facebook. Silly? Yes it is, but it works. Sure it might not be the route some want to take and there is nothing wrong with that.

This stems from us commenting about a mutual friend and one asking the other if that person was married. It was brought up because this person will post about lunches, outings and things like that with other members of the opposite sex. One of us thought that person was married and the other thought they were single.

So if it is confusing to us, people with no intention of contacting this person, what might that say to someone who has a long hidden crush for this person and is looking for the courage to put it out there.

So while it may not work for all of you, think about the "advertising" you might be doing about your relationship on social media. For Shannon and I, it works well, and it might for you too.

Here are just a few examples of our posts:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

As a man, I think that my job is to always fix things. I believe my job as a man is to be strong, and have all of the answers. As a husband, I think it is my job is to make sure I can take care of my wife, my relationships, and everything else.

The problem with that is that it is not always that easy. 

Think about it. You are a person who is different from EVERY other person out there. Your views, ideas, interests and everything else are unique to you. With that said, the way you deal with your relationships, problems, and situations will always be unique to you.

That does not make them the ONLY way, and it surely does not make them the right way.

Shannon and I had a huge problem with communication, as most couples do. She would voice her concerns, and I would either ignore them, or try to fix them by fixing her views on them. The same could be said for her, because as I said earlier, everyone has their own ways.

Our relationship ran in to problems when I did not like what she would say, and she did not like what i would say so instead of a problem having a solution, we both just made the problem worse by not addressing it. 

So how can that be fixed? For us it was counseling. 

We went to a neutral party who could care less about our silly arguments, or anything else. What she was interested in was teaching us the right way to communicate, and leaving it up to us to apply the techniques. 

"But Brandt, my marriage is my marriage and I do not want to bring someone else in to try to fix what they know nothing about." Perfect! Don't bring just anyone in, bring someone in who is vested in teaching you the right way to communicate/work on things. It does not matter what your way of learning is, just make it a point to learn to make your relationship better.

Shannon and I would not be married to this day if both of us did not make the choice to learn how to be a better partner, and I am honestly glad it is one of the first steps we took in making our relationship work.

So with that said, if you think you need help, look online for a counselor local to you, look online at websites for help until you can get to a licensed professional, or go to a book store and read a relationship book if you have to. 

Need help and you are local to Charleston? Email me and I will be glad to give you the name and number of the lady who helped Shannon and I. If you are not local, or even if you are and want to read from a licensed relationship expert? Check out the website for Barbara J. Peters, a couples counselor and relationship author.

Good luck everyone, and remember, do not be afraid to ask for help. It is not a strike against your man card. I have never felt more like a man than when I finally decided to do the right thing about my marriage and stop acting like a child.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lessons for Marriage Can Be Learned Everywhere

Everyone has something that they enjoy doing. No matter who you are, there is some hobby or activity that you enjoy. For me, that activity is comedy. I have done a few things of stand-up recently, but for this post, I am speaking about Improvisational comedy.

I began taking improv classes last year at Theatre 99 in January of 2012, and picked back up again at the beginning of November with the Level 2 classes.

"But Brandt, how does taking classes for comedy, for improv, mean anything to your marriage?"

I know, weird correlation right? For everyone, this may not be easy to relate to, but for me, this is a perfect example of connection lessons learned in life to my marriage.

Improv comedy is comedy with no scripts, no preset dialogue, and no preset outcome. It is based solely on the people on stage taking direction from their improv partner, or giving direction to them. The scene you create on the stage can be glorious, or it can be the most horrible experience of your life. Improv to me, is just like marriage.

One of the main teaching in improv comedy is saying "Yes, and." That simple saying means so much. It means that if your stage partner says, "I know you love it when I make smoked squirrel for dinner." then guess what, you LOVE eating smoked squirrel. Simply put, you agree, and you offer back. You don't say something that negates what your partner says like, "No I don't, I would never eat squirrel." You just killed everything your stage partner was doing. Instead, you add to, and heighten the scene. "Well it is only your smoked squirrel, I think it is because you add so much MSG to it."

Is that simple enough so far?

Marriage to me is very similar to this teaching. I can apply that thinking to many aspects of marriage. Of course not in the way of trying to be funny, but in agreeing, and being a partner.

If Shannon comes to me and says, "Brandt, I am feeling _____ right now because _____," she just offered me something that I can add to and heighten. I could say something like, "Well let's figure out a way to make that feeling go away, or find out what I can do to ease your mind." I would not dare "kill the scene" by telling her how she feels, or by saying it is stupid to feel that way (which I am sure I have done before). What kind of partner would I be if I said, "You don't feel that way, you just had a stressful day at work and are now looking for a fight." I would kill the "scene", in this case, her being honest and open with me, her husband and "stage partner."

What if Shannon comes to me completely excited about something that I simply do not understand or have interest in? Well, my job there is to enjoy it with her so I will keep being the man she tells those things to. Act disinterested and she will not want to tell me those things, and then I have lost my partner in that. I will "Yes, and," what she is interested so hard that her brain explodes. "Brandt, I just got invited to be a part of a local computer programmer competition where the winner has their picture put in PC weekly!" Not only would I be excited with her, but I will heighten and offer her something back, "Well what are you waiting for? No sleep until we know you are the best ever!"

I am not saying lie, or fake your responses, but genuinely be interested, and caring and thoughtful. You probably connected with your partner through talking first right? Late night calls on the phone, or talks in person over food, it doesn't matter. Talking is what got you where you were in the first place, if you lose that, what else is there?

So my plan from now on is to incorporate the lessons that I learn in other things that I enjoy to our marriage where it applies. If I am able to connect with people I have known for only a few weeks and make an entire audience laugh and believe we are squirrel eating rednecks, then why should I not apply these lessons to my real life and enhance my skills as a partner.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Follow Through On Promises

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

This topic is an easy one for me to write about because it is something I have had to remind myself lately. As you see, I have not been writing as frequently lately, and focusing writing on other things. After I finished working on a project last night, I was showing Shannon and letting her read it. After she read it and told me she liked it, she said, "Finished with the site about us huh?"

That got me thinking. How hard is it to follow through on promises no matter how big or small? I made a promise to Shannon to do this for at least a year, and while we have been practicing what we have learned to make our relationship better, I have let this promise of the site slip to the side. I can make excuses all day, but if I have time to devote to other creative things, I have time for this.

The thing I learned last night when Shannon said that, was that I need to do something I was taught as a young kid; honor my word. In my situation, where my word holds less weight than it would had I not cheated, I need to keep every promise I make. I can promise Shannon a million things, but if I do not follow through on those, my word becomes questionable.

How many of us agree to do things for our partners and for some reason or another, we do not follow through? I have forgotten to follow through on things I think are small, such as vacuum the stairs, or wipe the countertops. Sure that seems like something small to me, but when I tell her I will get to it, she is counting on me to do that, and has planned things around me doing what I said.

When we got married, we both promised to love each other and stay together through good times and bad. I broke that promise at first when I left her and then cheated. I broke it by telling her I was finished with us. You see, she planned on us being married forever, and when I broke the promise, those plans began to crumble. But with talking like an adult, going to counseling, and by my actions and intentions I have renewed that promise to her and will not break that one again.

So that is my "Marriage Saving Action" starting today. I vow to never make a promise I cannot or do not intend to keep, and I will fulfill all promises I make, no matter how small they seem to me.

Ask yourself if you have fulfilled all of your promises, no matter how small they seem. Ask if you can be a better partner by giving the power of your word more weight. Even if you feel the end of your relationship is inevitable, ask yourself if you have really given everything you have to that promise you made when you said "I do."

Expect to see more posts from me from now on, even if they are small.