Men Tell All

These are real stories from real men.  Where else will you get such brutal honesty from experienced men who will tell you what they’ve learnt the hard way?

My wife and I get our daughter babysat by her grandparents every Friday night so we can just go out and have fun together, because otherwise you really do forget to be in love and only remember the other day-to-day life stuff.  Some people think it’s a bit ‘try-hard’ or ‘overachiever’ of us to have a date night every week, but until you’ve been doing it for a couple of months, it’s just not possible to understand how healthy it is, and why we look forward to it so much.

Mike, Canberra.

My wife has been through the storms with me.  I married her drunk, 15 years ago and she’s still with me and today things are manageable.
–        R.M.

I’ve got an amazing wife and that shows in our children and our grandchildren…  A lot of families are torn apart by ridiculous things – some people really need to just get a life.
–        Jack

There’s some things my dad didn’t tell me, and that’s all right – that’s just how my family worked.  There were discussions we didn’t have – how we treat our wives and family, but dad did give us a moral foundation and that covered it.  I put in 70 odd hours a week, working towards the goal of building our house, and that’s not forever.  I feel that guilt about not spending as much time with my wife and kids as I used to.  I might not cherish that time enough and my wife pulls me up on that.
–        Marcus.

I wish I’d known that it’s the tough times when love grows the strongest.  Those are the times that I really need to commit to my wife and say “I’m not going anywhere”.  This type of love based on solid commitment is tough, real love, and I wish I’d known that right at the start.
–        Nathan.

One of the things I’ve learnt is that when I’m talking to her I need to look her in the eyes.  That way I know how she’s feeling (even though I don’t know what she’s thinking).
–        Geoff K.

“I think that more important than anything else, to rather than just do good things for your marriage, but instead to just not let bad stuff happen to your marriage.  Also, when things start to go wrong, you need to address them, because once things really start to go wrong and you get a snowball effect, it’s pretty hard to reverse.  Then, when things get really, really bad, it’s like you’re in a hole and you look up and it’s a long, long way to the top.  That’s pretty much what happened to us a while ago and that’s why she left.  I just hope that I can recover emotionally from this one day and I’ll be more attentive and not tune out next time.”

N.B.T., recently single again.

“We’d only been together less than a year and then I made the biggest mistake of my life.  When she wasn’t there I got with someone else.  The other one was really attractive and it was an offer I just couldn’t let pass me by. Well it nearly destroyed my girlfriend and I felt terrible and I will never forget what that did to her.  There just are no words for it. Never, never again will I make that mistake – it just cost her too much… way too much.  If you get a chance like that, I just want you to know… don’t take it.  It’s not worth it.  We’re still together years later but the regret is still real.

 Allan (Business executive)

After my affair and then later the divorce from my wife, I just wasn’t around like I use to be for my daughter. Instead of being at home with her every day and night, I spent time with her on occasional weeknights as well as every other weekend. I made those times a priority, but I know it was a huge change for her. I guess I got use to the new “normal” without really understanding how it affected her.

Disenchanted Dad.

“I was involved in a theater company and I shimmered.  I was in my glory.  Theater was my passion, my calling.  What makes the story messy is that work became my mistress.  I began to spend more and more time at work, give it the best of me, and all the while withdrawing from my wife.  It was nothing short of an affair with work, but worse because it couldn’t be so easily named. It was a disaster waiting to happen.”

J.E.

I regard my wife as the highest priority in my life. I have made the conscious decision that no phone call, nor social event, nor person, Flowers1-150x150thing or activity is more important than my wife. To the point that I have resolved that not even a visit or call by the PM or the Queen would be more important than my wife. People may ask: “but why, surely you’re being too extreme?”. My answer to this is: “Whose happiness is most at stake and who do I share a life with? My wife; definitely not the PM or Queen”. Just the other day I was tested with this. I happened to be in an important and pre-appointed business telephone meeting with a person from Melbourne when my mobile rang. I noticed it was my wife and without hesitation I asked the person on the other end of the phone to be excused for a moment while I took my wife’s call. Our wives need to know that they are the most important person in our lives and our actions need to confirm it.

KK, 39 yr old, Engineer

Lots of blokes when I was younger was….why would you want to get married. That’s no fun. You’ll be under the thumb now. Oh this too….the talk in the pubs etc. was always around the sex issue. If you get married that’ll be the end of that. I can say now all that was lies. Marriage teaches each other to grow up and grow together. It teaches you to love your wife unconditionally expecting nothing in return. Love to hear more from other blokes. We need to tell our younger fellas that society doesn’t value marriage.

Luke.

Recognizing that another person has different needs to you is not disrespectful or a putdown. In fact it is an essential step in developing a healthy relationship with another person. What I picked up here was – the importance meeting your spouse’s needs, being honest, valuing her, affirming her, hugging her, making sure that she knows that she is my priority, respecting & loving her.

Family Guy.

I want to share with you something very simple that my beautiful wife and I learnt at a marriage weekend that has kept us together for 30 years and married for 23 years.

You see, when we were thinking about getting married my church recommended that we go on a marriage weekend. At the time we thought this was going to be a boring ‘churchie’ weekend devoid of any real relevance in one’s life. In real fact, it turned out to be a wondrous experience listening to married men and women sharing their joys and pains in real life stories… maybe we should have more weekend retreats like this.
I’ve digressed a little from the valuable tool we learnt, however, thought it might be good to set the scene.

It was listening to a young couple who spoke about making a decision to love that the penny dropped. They spoke about times in their life that they really didn’t feel the love right at that moment and they had to make a conscious decision to love the other person. It sounds profoundly simple, yet the powerful impact that has had on our lives over the last 20 plus years has been immeasurable.

Often we have felt in situations that could be explosive that making a conscious decision right there and then to love that person transformed the atmosphere. Of course there has been times when we haven’t quite made the decision quick enough, however, making the decision afterwards is just as powerful as it says things like, “If you really love this person you will ask for forgiveness”.

Better than that, I have found myself using this tool before a situation gets out of control by simply stating to Vicky (that’s my wife), “Right now Vicky I am making a decision to love you with all my heart and it would be better if we continue this conversation at andog on back - funny picturesother time.” That one doesn’t always work either, however, it’s the intention to love and hold a space for someone out of love ( real or decided) that is the break through for us.

J.A.

What it takes to stay together for all the years…

  1. Major decisions to be made..listen, discuss, act (hopefully, but not necessarily in complete agreement…agree to differ?)
  2. Day to day activities… be helpful, but not bossy/overpowering.
  3. Personal life… be loving, understanding but not smothering.
  4. Simple surprises..e.g. a card for Valentines Day.
  5. Regular use of “Thank you”.

When one writes that down it all sounds a bit “prissy” and I’m not going to say it always goes as “per plan” because sometimes my wife says I’m being bossy!!

Grey-haired farmer, married for 63 years.

I’ve learnt the hard way that if you want your marriage to work then you have to put her first. Put her first even when you think she is wrong or when you think she is just being emotional.  If you put her first will come back to you. She has good days and bad days, depending where she’s at in her cycle, and is our job is the man to just go with that are not make her wrong for it.  You know which weeks are going to be her good weeks and you know which weeks are not.  Pick your time for new deal with hard issues.  Why make life hard yourself by picking the wrong days?

M.G., married 5 years.

What I do to let my wife know you value her?  Get up from my work to greet her with a hug when she comes home, ask her about her day. Buy her flowers regularly. Tell her what I like about her.

What I appreciate in my wife?  Her physical beauty and her fresh and open spirit lifts me up when I get into my morose Norwegian mode.
Advice I wish someone had given me when I first got married?  Be willing to confront her when necessary and don’t back off from a fight when she confronts you. But don’t expect to “win” every disagreement, even when you’re “right.” It doesn’t diminish your manhood if you don’t “win.”

Arguments are not about who’s right, but about what the Father’s trying to teach you. Choose your battles carefully, and don’t get sucked into her energy and drama. Be ready to say, “This arguing isn’t really getting us anywhere,” “It’s OK–I’m not your enemy.” When she’s irritable, don’t bite the bait. “I really don’t want to get into a fight about this.” Adopt the word “whatever” when the argument begins to overheat—not to brush her off as inconsequential, but to make it clear when further arguing is just going to create more pain. Most arguments really aren’t all that consequential. If she refuses to budge or compromise, tell her how that makes it hard for you to open up to her, then let go of it. Tell your god how frustrated you are, give it over to him and don’t entertain vengeful thoughts, like how you’re going to punish her if she doesn’t get in line with how you think. Get on your knees and surrender the whole situation. Get your platoon of brothers to let off steam and work things through with them.

What it takes to stay together for 20 years?  Good sex, telling her how good she looks, pursuing her, take your time and move slowly, make sure you do your best to satisfy her first. Keep the spark alive. Surprise her with gifts, flowers, love notes when she doesn’t expect it.

A readiness to surrender quickly to Jesus, to use every argument and difference as an occasion to look at yourself more deeply and seek His healing. The more you focus on what the Father’s doing in your life, the less you’ll get drawn off-center by what she’s doing or saying.

GD, clergy, 67, married 22 years.

Don’t jump into marriage because of infatuation. If you are thinking, “My friends will be so jealous when they see me with my new girlfriend”, then you would probably fit better into a beer commercial than into marriage. In short, you are not ready to marry anyone. Get to know your girlfriend well. What she likes and what she doesn’t like? There are at least two questions you need to answer if you think you might like to marry her. Can I live with her the rest of my life here on earth? If there are already things that annoy you about her, don’t think they will go away when you marry. Do you love her? If nothing she does affects the way you think about her then you probably do. Remember love is one sided. You might love her but does she love you? For a happy marriage she needs to love you as well. I think a woman can sometimes grow to love a man but I wouldn’t rely on it. Be careful not to stereotype women. They are not all the same; some don’t even like flowers. But of course you will know this before you get married because you have done your homework and know your girlfriend well.

Now you have decided to marry (both of you). Do you know what this means? Contrary to some beliefs, marriage isn’t a partnership; go into business if you want one of these. It is the joining of a man and woman together. You become one person. Some may say are you joined at the hip? In fact, you are closer than that, read Genesis 2:21-24. You now have to work as one. You can no longer live your former independent life answerable to no one. Some people laugh at the phrase, ‘your better half’, but I think it is appropriate to think of your wife being more importance than yourself. You would die for her if you had to, wouldn’t you? Working as one isn’t going out and buying a car thinking your wife will love it and be surprised. She will be surprised but don’t expect her to be happy when she opens her eyes to see your new car in the driveway. Your reasoning that you bought it for her won’t hold water and you have made a great error of judgment. When married you make all big decisions together like, should we move cities so I can get a better job, should we buy this house, should we build on to our existing house?

You don’t always have to be together physically. But I found when I travelled for work I was always thinking it was a pity my wife wasn’t with me to experience the travel together. And you can go out and buy an iPod or another hard drive for your computer without consulting her but I let my wife know I am doing this because it is our money I am using. Always let her buy a dress without consulting you or let her have a separate bank account for things she needs. If you were to work it out you would probably find you spend more on yourself than she does on herself.

When you have children you need to stick together. Your children should know early on that they can’t play one parent off against the other. Speaking with one voice takes some discussing on the way you plan to bring up your children before you have them. They should get to know quickly that both parents think the same way. This is best for your children because they know where they stand and are more comfortable with this.
First and last, I think it is crazy that anyone should take my advice on marriage. It has taken me a lot of time and thought to write on this subject. Fortunately, I have been able to rely on better sources who really know what they are talking about. I do know that love is essential and the ideal on this comes from reading the Bible. You can’t go wrong if you love your wife, love your children, love others, and love yourself, and love your God. To know what love is, read 1 Corinthians 13: It spells it out for you.
Marriage is for life but it doesn’t always work out that way. However, if you start out with the closest thing possible to the ideal then you have a greater chance of a long and happy life together. Anyone taking my advice needs to question what I have said and think things through for themselves. We may have only reached a half-life of marriage at 33 years and I know I have made plenty of mistakes over the years and you will too. That’s normal, no one is perfect. Fortunately, love never fails.

Rob, 33 years of marriage.

Starting an unnecessary, petty argument is like a hole in a dam wall starting.  Before you know it, you’ve got a great big disaster on your hands.  Let the small stuff go.

K.D. 

Took a backward step in our marriage. I was a workaholic.  That greatly impacted my marriage. I brought work home. We worked because we had to. I was a manager. I went to my kids’ sports. I coached teams. I always tried to get along with people. I think when you married it’s important to share things. You have to try to be equal. With kids the man has to come second to the kids. My father never told me anything about marriage.

R. Wilson, 74 years old.  48 years of marriage.

I was married for 24 years before I became a Christian, which was 7 years ago. It was only then that I was able to understand the role God had in marriage. I came to understand more about what love really was. The movie Fireproof helped with that as well. I learned about the covenant we had made when we got married but at the time didn’t really give that too much weight. It was just what you did when you got married. I think I got good advice from my parents when I was first married. I was 20 and my wife was 18. They said we were too young and they were right.

Darryl.

They say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved. I have lost my marriage and even though it has been the toughest struggle in my life, I have to look back and thank God. I have two great kids from it and I can never regret that. I did not know how good I had life until I lost it.  I can honestly say that us guys need to learn to listen and communicate better and not be afraid to share our feelings and be real honest about how we feel.

I lost my marriage and it has been the most painful experience I have ever endured. It has been just recently and is still very painful but I have learnt a lot in recent times. I realize now that I did not allow faith to be a focus point in my marriage and that was hard as my wife did not have the same faith that I had and I allowed this to break my beliefs and lost touch with God over the marriage and can see that I was at fault for this. I always thought that opposites can attract and live well together, but that became a wedge in the end. If you don’t have the maturity to talk about these differences and understand each other’s points of views it will not survive. I loved my wife with my whole heart but can see that I did not show it enough and do things just for her so she believed it. My faith says we need to do everything for the the people we love not expecting anything in return. I did not uphold this well.

I came from a farm background and in the early days of marriage realized that my wife, who did not grow up in rural areas really struggled living on the farm and the rural type living and relationships, with farming being a case of survival from one year to the next, I worked long and hard hours to support my family, but we still for the family sake moved off the farm and into town. I look back and see that I still continued to worked long and hard hours trying to provide for my family and all it achieved was I did not have any real quality time for my wife and kids. Yes, my kids enjoyed good schooling that they may or may not one day appreciate but has losing my marriage been worth it. I think not.

Us blokes need to be more honest and open about how we feel, and tell our partner how we are feeling and our hopes and dreams. I really recommend attending good marriage preparation type courses prior to getting married , even though things have changed in last twenty years it is important to go in without the eye blinkers on. Once you are married it is no longer me, it now becomes us. The media keep trying to make us all believe it is all about number 1 me, but if we do not change the mentality that relationships are about us and what I can do for you, marriage and relationships will continue to fail.

Even though I have had the pain of a failed marriage I still strongly believe in marriage and everything it stands for.

By M.D.

Understand each others fears and always encourage each other to push beyond and overcome those limitations. Adventure and laugh together as
friends. Don’t be afraid of admitting fault or laughing at your own mistakes. Give everything you can to your partner but dont loose yourself.

Ben Torres, Finalist – Illawarra’s Hillross Top Bloke Awards 2011

I can hear what she’s saying.  On the surface she’s complaining about a lot of things but underneath it all she’s saying “You’re not spending time with me – you’re not choosing me” so that’s why she’s upset.

Cameron – in a relationship for 7 months.

She wants me to spend more time with her and she wants me to earn more money.  Those two things don’t go together.  See the spot I’m in?

Gary.

It was one of the best bits of relationship advice I ever heard from a pastor… “If you don’t stop trying to change each other after 10 years… you WILL get a divorce”.

J.M., married 26 years.

We’ve both been married before and it didn’t work out but we’re determined to make this time different.  It’s hard because her daughter doesn’t really want it and we know that the statistics aren’t on our side but we are getting married and I reckon this time will last.  We haven’t done any premarriage counselling yet.

Steven.

I wish I knew what true love between a man and women is like. I have no idea. I know what infatuation and obsession towards a girl is all about but true love has eluded me thus far. But I long to know that deep intimacy. I am not afraid of it rather I want to embrace it. Love is king.
Jack on www.lovegivesfirst.com

I learnt a long time ago that to make it work out: if you’re wrong admit it and if you’re right then keep quiet.

Ted, Canberra, married 25 years.