Humble Brag – Props to my Wife

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I don’t want to steal any thunder from my wife who, today, quit her corporate job and is officially *dramatic music* “self-employed.” In fact, she just texted me that she told her boss (something she’s been dreading for…well, as long as she’s had it in her mind to quit I guess). I hope she will go into more detail in her own blog about her thoughts, struggles, successes, and every emotion in between because it takes a ton of guts to do what she did today.

Kelly has ALWAYS wanted to work for herself. Her parents and her brother all work for themselves and, for as long as I’ve known her, Kelly has been envious and dreamed of doing the same thing. About a year ago, she started doing some freelance social media and event planning for a couple of local businesses in the community. Her first (and probably favorite, but don’t tell anyone) was a restaurant we already liked going to that was near our house. That first day, she just went up to the owner, more-or-less bluntly asked if she needed any marketing help, and was surprised that she did and was happy to pay Kelly (at the time) a good amount of money for her to take over her social media and put on a few events at the restaurant.

It’s exciting for me to see how far she’s come with everything. Since she started with the social and events, she taught herself graphic design and also how to build websites. She can now charge 3x what she did just one year ago, and I think she’s beginning to realize that the work she does is worth more than that even.

I think a lot of people in my position would be scared to have their wife do what Kelly is doing. She and I basically brought home the same amount of money before this, so the security of knowing what the paycheck was going to be 3, 6, 12 months from now was a comfortable way to plan for the things we want to buy and the places we want to go.

The thing is, having seen how far she’s come and having heard how much her clients appreciate her work, I am excited about the prospect of what her working for herself will mean for our income (especially if you give her 40+ more hours to focus on everything). I don’t care if we aren’t bringing home what we did for a few months, because I know she’s the kind of person that won’t sit still until she’s where she wants to be. And the exciting thing is, she’s the kind of person that never settles for things being good enough.

I am extremely proud of my wife for having the courage to do what it is she’s wanted to do for a long time. There are a million reasons she shouldn’t have left a good paying job with benefits, but she is putting her happiness first and I believe with my whole heart that there are much bigger things in our future because she has the courage and vision to bet on herself. There is not a bone in my body that second guesses that this is the right thing to do and that she’s making the right decision.

 

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Eight Things I Learned about Marriage after Two Years

 

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For those that didn’t see, this blog was published in “The Good Men Project” and can be seen (with different pictures) here: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/eight-things-learned-marriage-two-years-dg/

My wife and I just had our second wedding anniversary, and while I haven’t learned the secret to 60 years of coexistence like my grandparents might be able to teach, there are some things I’ve gotten out of the last 730 days that I think are valuable in their own right. After all, if you can’t make it past two years, you aren’t going to be celebrating a 60th anytime soon.

1 – Learn what your partner’s favorite thing is about themselves

It’s one thing to compliment your partner when they look good or get promoted at work. It’s another thing to compliment your wife on her ability to get shit done (if that’s what she’s into).

If you can’t make each other laugh just being who you are, you are going to have a hard time enjoying each other for the rest of your lives.

My wife loves being a trailblazer — as I write this she is planning a community 5K and health and wellness expo from scratch. Telling her that she’s killing it and that I am proud of how well she’s handling such a big project means more to her than telling her she looks good in a bathing suit or how perfect her hair looks after she gets it cut. Figure out what your wife loves most about herself and make a point to let her know you love it too.

2- Find the humor in ordinary situations

Dating was great. You stay out late, have one too many drinks, and usually have sex — a lot of sex. When you get married (and I can only imagine after kids), things slow down and nights out with friends are all to often swapped for nights on the couch being smothered by your dog who doesn’t know the meaning of personal space. It’s in these situations that marriages can be made or broken because this is real life and these moments will be what 80% of your non-working lives will be together. If you can’t make each other laugh just being who you are, you are going to have a hard time enjoying each other for the rest of your lives.

3- It’s still OK to celebrate little moments

My wife and I still celebrate our “date-iversary.” It’s a stupid thing, but it shows that we still remember the day we decided to become exclusive (even if we have some trouble remembering that WHOLE night). You’re expected to do things for her birthday or anniversary, but showing her that those little moments still mean something to you shows her that you value your relationship.

4- Take your health seriously

Another great thing about dating was you probably splurged on some late night eats, a few too many late night drinks, and probably found yourselves eating out more than your budget would have preferred.

I love our together time, but I also appreciate some time to myself.

When you get married, the kitchen becomes more important in many ways than the bedroom. Everything in life starts with your health, including not only your happiness and satisfaction with your partner, but with yourself as well. Cook together, and make sure you both carve out time to exercise. Healthy relationships begin with healthy people, so make sure you are doing your part.

5- Pay attention to your appearance

I know how easy it can be to go another day without shaving or rock the same sweatpants three or four nights in a row after you get home from work. There is a fine line between being comfortable in your home and letting yourself go. Looking good for your partner is an important way to remind them that you want to be your best for them. I have found that the more I shave my face, the more she will shave her legs. Looking your best leads to feeling your best, which leads to confidence in and out of the home, and confidence is something everyone finds attractive.

6- Understand each other’s needs for space and togetherness

My wife doesn’t need much “me time.” She loves spending time together and hates it when I have to go away for a night or two for work (for the record, so do I). I love our together time, but I also appreciate some time to myself. I love to get outside and run. My wife has never questioned me when I say I need to go run and I love her that much more for allowing me to do what I need to do to be me. I also recognize her needs to be together and I will gladly trade “guy time” for time spent just watching bad TV with her and our dog.

7- Have an opinion

It all boils down to listening to each other, respecting each other, and having fun with each other.

Ninety-nine times out of 100, my wife seems to disagree with my opinion when it comes to option A and option B, but she respects the fact that I weigh the options and tell her how I feel. Playing the “I don’t care” card shows a lack of interest in the issue at hand. You don’t have to be stern about why you want to go for sushi instead of Mexican, but she’ll appreciate that you put down your phone long enough to tell her how you’re craving spicy tuna, even if you end up having margaritas at El Vaquero.

8- Ego has no place in relationships

It’s easy to stand up for your wife if she is being mistreated in public. It’s more difficult when it’s just the two of you having an argument, but the latter can diffuse a huge fight waiting to happen. Putting your ego aside doesn’t always mean admitting you’re wrong (though that does go a long way sometimes), rather it means honestly putting yourself in her position and trying to understand where she’s coming from. Those “where did that come from” fights usually don’t start because someone is picking a fight, but because they don’t feel the other person is putting in the effort to see things from the other perspective.

There are plenty of other things I am learning about myself, my wife, and our relationship as we go along. It’s hard to narrow down the list sometimes, but I think that my wife and I are on a good path and I believe that we are destined for 60 years together some day. It all boils down to listening to each other, respecting each other, and having fun with each other. If you have that, the first two years will fly by faster than you realize.

– See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/eight-things-learned-marriage-two-years-dg/#sthash.Llwag0e6.dpuf

Thinking Systems

Lately I have been reading a book all about how people think. I won’t go into too much detail about it because, frankly, I don’t understand a majority of what I am reading. Basically, it talks about how people have two “thinking systems.” The first system is very much a reactionary, instinctual, you know it as soon as you see it type of process. When you’re waiting at a stop light and it turns green, your brain does very little processing before it tells you to push the gas pedal. The second system is your critical thinking system. It does things like multiplying numbers bigger than 3 and estimating how long it would take you to drive to Orlando for a family vacation.

[Side Note: I drove to Orlando for a family vacation. It takes about 15 hours with a dog and you should get an audio book. Definitely get an audio book. I digress…]

Thinking about thinking got me thinking about how men and women apply these two systems in their everyday lives. The name of the book is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. When I saw the title, my immediate gut reaction (System 1) told me that my wife is a fast thinker and I am a slow thinker. I thought the book was going to confirm what I already knew in that some people have the ability to process information much quicker than others to come to a logical conclusion about.

For example, I rarely fight with my wife because she has a remarkable ability to think logically in the heat of the moment. She can remember countless examples of very specific instances when I said something a certain way or refused to do something when it needed to be done. She can recite entire conversations we had months before where I had contradicted whatever my current position happened to be. I, on the other hand, have a hard time remembering much more than, “I do remember saying something about that…” or “I’m pretty sure that what I meant when I said that was…” What it comes down to for me is that I know better than to try to call my wife out on anything beyond catching her red-handed in the act, which she is way to careful to ever let happen.

Now, if we were to schedule a fight for 8:00 pm, and I was presented a list of her arguments well in advance, I think I would have a pretty good shot at winning my case as to why I shouldn’t have had to take the dog out this morning despite the fact that it was my day to do so.

“Well, babe, having taken the dog out the two nights prior should have bought me some chore-equity. Not to mention the fact that I have this email from you dated 1/23/2013 stating that you owe me for buying you flowers.”

What the book is actually about is how we put these two systems to work. Remember, System 1 is your reaction and “know it without thinking about it system” and your System 2 is your critical thinking system. We all have both systems, but some of us are about to lean heavier on one system or another at any given time.

My wife has the strong System 1. It’s not that she can win an argument against me, but she can make important decisions on gut reactions. And I admire this about her because my System 1 doesn’t work the same way. I have a relatively strong System 1, but not in the same way she does. My system 1 recognizes meaningless facts like where Istanbul is located on a map or that a flush beats a straight in a game of poker. I don’t have to think about it I just know right away that Istanbul is to the right of the Mediterranean Sea and I don’t like my 9-10-J-Q-K when 4 diamonds are on the board and someone bets big into me.

Here’s a good example of when the same question draws out differing systems:

Where do you want to go to dinner tonight?

Me: well let’s see. We haven’t had Chinese in a few weeks, but I had pasta last night and I would probably get something with noodles if I went Chinese. OK so rule that out. Sushi would be good but I don’t get paid for another week and we would probably run up a big bill.  Same goes for seafood. So lets factor out expensive places. Mexican could be good. It’s cheap. OK so Mexican, or… I guess we could split something at a seafood place…

Her: I want sushi.

I really appreciate this aspect of how she thinks. I will go months without buying new running shoes despite the fact that I ran a marathon and a half-marathon last year and my feet hurt after every time I run. I will convince myself why I don’t NEED new shoes and how I could better spend my money. By listening to her sometimes, I get things I want and, more importantly, things that I need.

Now, it’s not like System 2 isn’t equally as important in our lives as is System 1. For instance, I control the finances. I can sit at a spreadsheet and map out our next 3 month’s expenses and I can know that we will be financially tight these next two months, but come June we will have some extra spending money and can go on a weekend get away if we wanted to. My wife has a very hard time with this. It’s not that she cannot think critically or couldn’t sit down and figure our finances out. She could if she wanted to.

System 2 is much easier to train than is System 1. System 1 is much lazier than is System 2, but we can always practice patience. Now, just because I say that is it lazier, doesn’t mean that it is somehow less important than a System 2. It only relies on gut reactions, instincts, feelings and anything that doesn’t require you to furrow your brow. We cannot practice how we react to questions or situations where we rely on our instincts.

So what does it all mean? Nothing. And everything. We are are capable of making gut decisions and also thinking critically about what needs to be done. I think that my wife and I work so well together because we each allow each other’s strengths to shine and lean on each other when we need to. I don’t know that men or women tend to think one way or another. I think most people would presume men think one way and women another. I think what it comes down to is that everybody has their own affinity for how they think and how they can best navigate through daily decisions.

Ultimately, understanding how our minds work is the most important thing.  And equally as important, for those of us in relationships, is the ability to recognize how your partner’s mind works. I know my System 1 isn’t as strong as my wife’s so I know it’s better not to try to take a stand during an argument unless I am really sure of what I want to say.

Now, if you want to have a rational discussion about why we should go out for Mexican tonight…