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Men Living Up

5 Sentences that will improve your Marriage"

Is this really about the underwear on the floor?

Men Living Up The other day I did something I’ve rarely done in 18 years of marriage -- I’d developed a bad habit and my wife called me on it. Rather than defending my actions as “not that bad” or accusing her of overreacting, I simply said...Ok, I’m sorry and I won’t do that anymore. Thinking about it later I realized that while I was sincere in my apology, I had had to fight the urge to instantly make it her problem and not mine.
It’s a difficult lesson that most men struggle with - especially in regards to our wives. We’re quick to say the first thing we think which is usually hurtful and does long-term damage to our marriage. Here are five things that every man should memorize and practice saying in private so they’ll be easier to say later - before the argument starts.

1. “You know... we might be able to afford that......let’s talk about how.” Come on man.....Unless you want a beach house in Hawaii or a Harley, you afford what you want to. So your wife tells you she wants a cruise, a maid, or even a new rug for the living room, there’s probably a way you could afford it. Resist the temptation to dismiss her wishes even if you think it’s a bad idea. Spend some time talking about what she said. If it’s really too expensive or a tad bit on dumb - she’ll figure that out. Besides, a few minutes or an afternoon of dreaming together is a much better marriage builder than reminding her that your finances kind of suck.

2. “Tell me about your day and I promise not to tell you how you could have improved it.” Here’s a secret......she already knows how she could have avoided the kids getting sick, the crayon marks on the walls, and even the overflowing bathtub. She just needs to fully talk about, cry about, or even scream about what happened. Promising to listen without comment will hopefully keep you from trying to make it a “bad day” contest. When that happens.....you both lose.

3. “Is this really about the underwear on the floor?” Remember when you got upset about getting cut off on the highway? Would it have helped for someone to point out that you really shouldn’t get upset about silly things like that? I think not! If your wife has a “bring out the nukes” reaction about something that you think is relatively unimportant (say the three pairs of dirty shorts on the floor) reach up and knock yourself in the forehead and say “Hello? This is not entirely about the underwear?”

4. I’m really glad you’re not like....(fill in your best friend’s wife’s name) Ok, you promised for better or worse and today is really her WORSE. Next week may be even ....worser (is that a word?) and you’ll not want her remembering that you compared her to someone else. There’s a quote from the late Trappist monk Thomas Merton that I like here..... “the beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

5. I’m sorry! (followed by the sounds of crickets chirping) If the word sorry is followed by a “but” or the sound of eyes rolling.....you’re not sorry and that makes you a liar and a jerk. Here’s another secret.....Liars and jerks don’t have good marriages! If you practice making these five statements and really mean them you might find yourself needing to pick up your underwear more than once a day. And that, my friend, will definitely improve your marriage! ❖

—Marvin Penick About the Author: Marvin Penick is a work-at-home husband, father, and family leadership expert. His website www.firmfamilytree.com/MLU is visited regularly by family leaders from over 40 countries looking to optimize both personal and leadership development. Visit www.firmfamilytree.com/MLU and begin earning the respect you deserve from the family you love.

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