The 1 Question Quiz to Tell if You Are a Terrible Husband. I failed.

terrible husband quizOver the last year I’ve read several marriage books and blogs. I’ve learned about love languages, boundaries, happiness, unconditional love, and so much more.

I’ve even taken marriage lessons from football and business books.

I look everywhere for marriage lessons. Yet I was still surprised this weekend about where I found a one-question quiz to tell whether I was still a terrible husband: My daughter’s smile.

On Saturday morning I had the pleasure of spending two hours alone with my daughter. She’s two-and-a-half, almost to the day. We ate breakfast, played, sang, hugged, danced, and just had a great time. We smiled so wide and laughed so hard that our cheeks were sore and stomachs were in pain.

As she smiled at me, I couldn’t help but wonder about the future — her future.

Who would she be? What would she do? Who would she marry?

The marriage question stuck with me for a minute or two.

I thought about meeting her husband for the first time, walking her down the aisle, and dancing with her at the wedding.

What would she look like? Would she still have the same face? Would I still see this same smile that day? Those same cheeks? The dimples?

What would he be like? What kind of man would I want for her?

That last question stuck with me for a little while. I starting listing characteristics of a man I would want for my daughter in my mind.

And then my heart dropped. I was describing the exact opposite of what I had been for so long, and sometimes still am in moments of laziness or lack of focus.

And there I had it.

The 1-question quiz that will tell you if you’re a terrible husband: [click to tweet]

Are you the type of person you would want your daughter to marry?

It’s a big question, for sure. But it’s an effective one.

Take some time. Explore some of the factors.

Would you want your daughter’s husband talking to her like you talk to your wife? Your tone? Your facial expressions? Your body language?

Would you want him to spend more (or less) time with her?

Would you want him to have your habits? Motivation? Attitude?

To spend money like you do? To work like you do?

Yes? Great. You’re probably a pretty good husband.

No? Well you might just have a punch list of things to work on yourself.

What can you work on this week to get closer to the type of guy you would be happy for her to marry?

Is your marriage “good enough”?

happy marriageWhen you’re committed to improving your marriage, you’ll find life-changing lessons when and where you least expect them.

A few months ago, I got a package from a friend and mentor. In it was a very nice note and a copy of Michael Hyatt`s fabulous book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. The book was even signed by Michael. Very, very cool. Very thoughtful.

My friend sent it to me as a resource for growing my online presence so I can help influence others like me to stop pointing fingers and start taking personal responsibility for improving their marriages.

The book does that, for sure. It’s a great book on blogging, social media, and other ways to build a platform.

But a funny thing happened as I was reading this business book. I learned several important lessons about my marriage.

One of the most helpful marriage lessons comes from the Michael’s discussion of product development, in which he urges entrepreneurs to create only “wow” products that exceed expectations:

How often have you rushed something to market with a sigh and a collective, ‘Well, I guess that will have to do. It’s not great, but it’s good enough’? Sadly, we don’t start with a lofty vision. I’m afraid we have become content with mediocrity; we aim low and execute even lower.

I immediately related to this from a business perspective. But something kept drawing my eyes back to that quote as I attempted to read on. My eyes kept moving, but my mind wasn’t keeping up with me. It was still thinking about that quote. I couldn’t figure out why. I don’t settle for “good enough” at work. And I won’t settle for “good enough” in my businesses either. I get it. So why couldn’t my brain move on?

And then it hit me. It’s my marriage.

I’ve settled for mundane, routine, “good enough,” way too many times in my marriage. [click to tweet]

Valentine’s Day was historically a card with a messy “Love, Nick” scribbled on the card. Not this year :)

“Goodnight” was often me falling asleep on the couch or blurting a quick “luvya” as I turned away from her to curl into a ball and listen to a podcast or think about the next day’s work until I fell asleep.

The day was over. We were all still alive. And we were still married. It’s not great. But it was good enough.

Those were my standards.

I aimed way too low.

I wouldn’t accept less than “wow” in business. So why would I accept less for my marriage? [click to tweet]

I shouldn’t. I wouldn’t. So I won’t.

In a podcast episode discussing this concept, Michael discusses five questions you can ask to go from good enough to “wow.”

I’ve adapted them a little bit to apply to creating a “wow marriage” and encourage you to consider them in your mind or in the comments below. Get creative.

Start small: Try it with your next date night. Don’t have a date night scheduled? Schedule one. And then plan it with these five questions in mind.

Question #1: What is the experience I want to create or transform into an amazing one?
Question #2: How will my wife feel as a result of this experience? (In other words, what is the specific outcome you want to create?)
Question #3: Typically, what specific expectations does the typical wife bring with her to this experience?
Question #4: What does failing to meet my wife’s expectations for this experience look like?
Question #5: What does exceeding my wife’s expectations for this experience look like?\

My marriage will no longer be just “good enough.”

How about yours?

The Unconditional Love Fallacy

the unconditional love fallacyIn The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage, Dr. Laura Schlesinger touches on several concepts in relationships that hit way too close to home.

Strangely, it was a book I almost didn’t pick up, passing over it several times because I believed it to be too “mainstream” or “commercialized.” I’m apparently a scruffy beard, half-caff broke-a-chino, hipster-type when it comes to reading marriage books.

Well shame on me. It was a great book, with several prominent and hidden tips. And practical, too.

One of the topics that jumped out to me was the concept of unconditional love.

I took the knowledge that my wife loved me unconditionally for granted for several years. It’s one of the primary causes of my years of sub-par performance as a husband.

Unconditional love is a fallacy. It’s a trap.

If you take it for granted, because it’s “unconditional,” you risk letting the feeling of love atrophy.

That’s what I did. And we suffered greatly because of it.

Like I mention here and here, I know my wife loves me, and will continue to love me just as I am. So I let that knowledge make me complacent, virtually checking it off the to-do list as “done.”

In my mind, I didn’t have to worry about love. We had that covered. It’s unconditional. [click to tweet]

Boy was that wrong.

It’s not “wrong” in the sense that our love was actually “conditional.”

It is wrong because it removed the need and desire to be loving, to “practice” love, to grow our love, which is key to “feeling” loved.

Being loved and feeling loved are two very different things. [click to tweet]

Loving each other is important. But speaking and acting in such a way as to make the other person “feel” loved is where marriages can separate themselves from the pack.

An extra kiss. Or, better yet, a kiss with a “dip,” like a ballroom dancer, always catches a smile.

Ending sentences with a sincere, “my love,” puts both of us in a more loving mood and improves the tone of every conversation.

Consciously asking myself how I can act or talk “in a more loving way” helps me address uncomfortable topics without hurting feelings.

Each of those thoughts or gestures is simple, but has had an incredible impact on my wife “feeling” more loved. And on me feeling loved in return. Perhaps it’s subconscious reciprocity – she feels loved and acts even more loving. Or, more likely, she had been more loving for years and I just didn’t notice. It’s probably a little of both.

What are you doing to avoid the unconditional love complacency trap? To be more loving on a daily basis? To cultivate an environment full of love? To not take “unconditional love” for granted?

Another helpful resource on how (and why) to be more loving to your wife is
Emerson Eggerichs’ book Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs. As you might tell from the title, it’s a great resource for wives, too. As of this writing, the Kindle version is on sale for only $3.99. Imagine if you could improve your marriage exponentially for $3.99? Now imagine not improving your marriage for $3.99. I have a print copy and scored a kindle copy today, so it’s never too far away.

Think small: How to make time slow down.

the days are long but the years are shortIn football there’s an old saying that the game “slows down” for elite quarterbacks.

The most commonly referenced characteristic of those elite quarterbacks is the way they approach each little detail about the game.

From the time one game is over through the end of the upcoming one, they study. They look for little details that can predict what a defense is about to do so they can make the best out of the next play. On the field they look for a twitch of a linebacker’s knee, the eyes of a safety, the shift of weight in a defensive lineman.

They take their time. No play is rushed. Even the hurry-up offense is carefully choreographed.

You might catch an average quarterback looking up at the scoreboard in between plays instead of down at the playbook. They are often too focused on the next “big play” that they miss the small opening for a 4-yard run on a 2nd and 3 if they call an audible at the line of scrimmage.

The secret is not that the elite quarterbacks are more patient by nature, or better athletes than the “average” quarterback. For the most part, at the professional level most quarterbacks have the raw talent and know-how to win any given week.

The game slows down for the Elite Quarterbacks because they take the time and effort to focus on the little details that most average quarterbacks miss. The game doesn’t slow down. It just slows down “for them.”

In her book Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life, Gretchen Rubin documents a nine-month journey to making her home a happier place: a place of simplicity, comfort, and love, as she describes it.

In it she talks about several “Splendid Truths” about happiness, including one that “the days are long, but the years are short,” to describe how to increase happiness. It’s best explained in video form.

“The days are long, but the years are short” originated from her first book, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, a #1 New York Times Bestseller.

The message hit home for several reasons, but mostly because of the simplicity of it.

But how can I slow down the years so they don’t rush by and I wake up decades from now wondering where my life went?

I can’t. Time will pass. And that’s fine.

But I can take the time to look for and appreciate the little details every day, anticipate challenges and opportunities, be intentional to ignore the noise, and focus my efforts on what truly matters to my family in that moment.

That will create more success and joy in our lives.

Than can “slow down” our time.

A drive to school; a trip to the home improvement store; sitting home on the couch; those little moments that seem to just “fill time.”

These things are “life.” These are the details. This is where I can become “elite.”

And while the years won’t slow down. They can slow down for me. For us. If I focus on making the minor moments memorable instead of sleep walking through them and waiting for the next big play.

What little routine thing do you rush through every day? And what can you do to make it memorable?

Don’t be afraid to think too small. One dad even made waiting for the school bus memorable… and an Internet sensation.