15 Tips to Stay Married For 25 years, 4 Months and 9 Days

Please join me in welcoming Pamela Hodges to Confessions of a Terrible Husband. Pamela writes at I Paint I Write and has been married a long time! She's here to share some of her secrets to success with us! Let us know what resonates with you in the comments. 🙂 Any you agree with? Any you disagree with? Let us know!

15 Tips To Stay Married for Twenty-five Years, Four Months and Nine DaysMy husband and I met on January 26th, 1990 at the Atusgi Naval Base, Atsugi Japan. I was working as a photographer in Tokyo and he was working as a Naval officer stationed on the Midway. Five days after we met I drew him a picture of what I wanted my engagement ring to look like. Four days later he shipped out. Twenty-seven days after we met he proposed to me on the phone from a port stop.

We were married on September, 22nd, 1990 in Wayzata, Minnesota. Twenty-five years, four months and nine days later we are still married.

Fifteen Tips To Stay Married for Twenty-five Years, Four Months and Nine days.

  1. Buy Expensive Tissue. When your spouse is sick in bed with a bad cough and a runny nose and they only have septic safe toilet paper to blow their nose, offer to go the store even if it is ten o’clock at night. Buy the softest tissue they have.
  1. Close the bathroom door when you are pooping or peeing. And don’t walk in on your spouse when they are pooping or peeing. Keep the romance alive and keep your butt wiping private.
  1. Put down your phone when you are on a date. You really can wait to find out the score for the basketball game you are missing. My husband still needs to work on this one.
  1. Remember a glass on the counter by the dishwasher is just a glass on the counter by the dishwasher. I have to work on this one. Sometimes the glass on the counter feels like a personal insult.
  1. Don’t talk badly about your spouse in public. Ever. Not even once. If it is a story about when they locked they keys in the car three times last week, ask if you can tell the story first.
  1. Have sex frequently. When I told my husband what I was writing for number six, I said, “I could use improvement on this one. “ He said, “Yes, you could.”
  1. Have sex only with your spouse. That goes for kissing too. Borrow your neighbour's lawnmower, or their carousel horse, but not their spouse.
  1. Always tell the truth. If you just bought a carousel horse at an auction for six-hundred dollars, tell him the truth. And if you are the spouse that had to find a truck to pick up the carousel horse, be nice. You never know when you might buy a six-hundred dollar carousel horse and need grace.
  1. Pray together. Prayer kept us together. Even after I threw a pot.
  1. Keep your spouse's secrets. Don’t tell your friends that your husband picks their nose. You want to feel safe to share your feelings with your spouse. Be trust worthy.
  1. Be nice. See rule number eight about the carousel horse.
  1. Listen. And when you are listening, pay attention to the other person, don’t just be waiting to tell your own story. Please, please, give your spouse a chance to explain why they bought the carousel horse.
  1. Feel free to fart in front of each other. I know that might seem to go against rule number 2, the pooping rule, but holding flatulence in all day, is not easy. If this rule bothers you, then step outside or fart in the bathroom. If a fart sneaks out before they can run outside, give your spouse grace. We all have gas.
  1. Don’t talk about your spouse’s feeling to other people. Three-way communication is ineffective. If someone wants to know what your spouse thinks, encourage them to ask your spouse.
  1. Encourage your spouse to keep dreaming and following their passions. Life is not stagnant. We are always learning and growing. The person you married is changing, they will not be the exactly same person you married twenty-five years ago. Grow with them.

Your spouse is your friend, your lover and your biggest fan. Encourage your spouse to keep dreaming and following their passions.

Two years ago I started taking classes at the local community college. I have taken classes in Computer Graphics, Typography, and Page Layout and Design.

Last fall I made an adult coloring book, “Color The Cats – Forty Real Cats From Around The World and Their Stories,” in my Page Lay-Out and Design class.

The book was independently published on Amazon on December, 16th, 2015. 10% of all proceeds from the book go Best Friends Animal Society.


p.s. I bought the carousel horse after we had been married for about seven months. If I hadn’t been outbid on the wooden chicken I would never have bid on the horse.

9 Steps to Becoming a Supportive Partner

It took me almost a decade to do 7 & 8

Today I welcome Philip Swindall, another “regular guy” working hard to become a better and better husband. He also wrote show notes for a few episodes of the Confessions of a Terrible Podcast. 

If you're interested in my story about becoming a more supportive partner in my marriage, you can pick up signed copies of my book, Confessions of a Terrible Husband, right here or unsigned and Kindle versions on Amazon or nook or unsigned print copies at BN.com.

9 Steps to Becoming a Supportive Partner. (It took me almost a decade to do 7 & 8.)One of the most common questions asked of relationship experts is:

“What can I do to keep the relationship vital and strong?”

An important part of the solution is providing the emotional support they crave.

Through reading books, listening to experts present their information, and just paying attention, I've discovered nine different ways I can improve my ability to support my wife.

These nine ways can form a solid foundation upon which you can build a world-class relationship.

Start applying these nine strategies in your relationship today and you'll be well on your way to becoming a truly supportive partner:

1. Listen with intensity.

When you listen, it shows you’re interested in what’s on your partner’s mind. What do they yearn for? What do they love to do? If you listen, you’ll know.

My wife’s sister is profoundly deaf. Because of that, I’ve learned some tips for paying attention. Look them in the face when they speak to you. That's rule number one.

2. Think of your partner first as much as possible.

What restaurant might they like to go to this evening? Is there an activity they’ve recently said they wished they could do? When you consider your partner’s wants and needs, your partner will feel the love.

You’ll never go wrong putting the needs and wants of someone you love before your own needs. After all, that’s the very definition of love. A wise teacher once said, “greater love has no man than he who lays down his own life for another.” I truly believe he wasn't just talking about the end of someone's life, but also, the end of someone's selfishness for another.

3. Laugh together each day.

There’s something comforting and fun about laughing easily and often. Read them a joke you saw on Facebook. Tell them about something funny you read in the newspaper. Use a bit of self-deprecating humor. Find the humor in seemingly non-humorous happenings.

When my wife and I were dating, she complimented my sense of humor and ability to make her laugh. But, she was even more impressed when I told her that I thrive on the sound of laughter, “it's the most beautiful music anyone can create.”

Additionally, laughing with others provides a deep emotional connection with them that breaks down barriers. It’s quite difficult to laugh with someone and still be angry at them.

4. Pay attention.

After living with someone for several years, it’s easy to fall into patterns of doing your own thing and being more focused on your own desires.

Observing your partner enhances your awareness of where they are both physically and emotionally.

To avoid the “familiarity breeds contempt” syndrome, make it a point to learn something new about your partner every week. Turn it into a game. Saturday or Sunday morning, when you're laying in bed, discuss what it is that you've learned about the other. You'll be amazed what you'll find out about your partner, and about yourself.

5. Offer help frequently.

If your wife seems frazzled about preparing for overnight visitors arriving next week, offer to help her prepare. Inquire about what she wants to have done and do some of the tasks for her.

If your husband wants to take his buddy to lunch next week and show off the new car but doesn’t have the time to take it to the car wash, get it washed for him. Loving partners assist each other frequently. Be on the lookout for things you can do to help them.

6. Declare that you’re a team.

There will be opportunities for you to tell your spouse that you’re there for them. You can say something like, “We’re a team. You can count on me.”

Statements like these demonstrate your ongoing support.

Statements like these in front of other people plants your stake in the ground. You’ve declared your borders and boundaries, and pretty much threatened anyone to invade at their own risk.

7. If you’ve been less than supportive recently, bring it up.

Although this may be difficult, admitting that you failed to step in and be there for your partner shows them you’re able to recognize your missteps. Plus, you can reassure them that it won’t happen again.

Failure is not permanent. However, failing to learn from that moment of failure is.

8. Apologize.

Apologizing says that you see your error and realize that you hurt your partner.

The day I got married, my younger brother, who had been married for almost 20 years already (I was a late bloomer, I guess) gave me some important words to remember. And, while I know he was joking (a little), the advice hits home. Those words were, “yes dear, you’re right, I'm wrong, I'm sorry.”

Those eight simple words, spoken honestly, can be a humbling, yet cleansing, experience. Afterwards, you can continue the relationship with a clean slate.

9. Practice Honesty.

It’s very important to be honest with your partner. If you’re careful with your tone of voice and gently portray your honest thoughts and feelings, your relationship will thrive.

My wife will tell you that she is surprised that I’ve not made a reference to a pop song yet. So, here it goes. When Billy Joel was going through a troubling time in his first marriage, he wrote a very poignant song about the word “honesty”.

In it, he says, that “honesty is such a lonely word, everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard, but mostly what I need from you.” We all need someone upon whom we can rely to tell us the truth, when it hurts and when it soothes. We need that.

At the same time, we need to learn to tell the truth in love. When you correct your child most effectively, it is with love in your heart, praying that they don’t make that same mistake again. The most ineffective correction, however, is when you're trying to prove your point, or are angry because they didn’t listen to you the first time.

Honesty, yes. Angry, no.

Your decision to be involved in an intimate, loving relationship was probably one of the most wonderful decisions you’ve ever made. Be supportive of your partner by putting these ideas into action.

Your relationship will be enriched beyond belief!

Phillip Swindall is a 50-year-old newlywed, having married for his first time at the age of 46. He has coached several of his married friends through the years as a supportive encourager who is committed to the experience of life-long, committed marriage relationships.

Staying Safe and Healthy When in Love with Someone Toxic

I'm super excited to welcome my good friend and Toxicity Education Advocate, Jen Moff, back to talk about how to stay safe and healthy when in love with someone toxic. This is a follow-up on my post listing 9 Signs You're a Toxic Person and Jen's first post, Seven Steps to a Toxic Turnaround, which was written for toxic folks who need to change.

Staying Safe and Healthy When in Love with Someone Toxic.Whether this person is selfish, angry, greedy, attention seeking, sees themselves a victim, or living in a state of anxiety and fear, they can be seen as toxic. The tricky part is the relationship you have with this person. They could be a blood relative, coworker, boss, employee, best friend, acquaintance, or even a spouse or lover. Depending on the interaction, there are some differences in how I’d suggest handling the relationship.

Here are some general best practices for how to stay safe when you suspect there is toxic behavior from your spouse or lover.

1. Set firm boundaries

A boundary is an imaginary line that separates one person from another. Each person decides what their boundaries are in terms of their body, heart, mind, attitudes, values, beliefs, emotions, time, and energy. When you say yes and when you say no you are stating your personal boundaries. Boundaries aren’t usually something that is actively taught, but they are directly correlated to self-respect.

Implementing boundaries where they may have lacked will feel challenging and maybe even scary, almost as if this person wont like or love you if you say no. I promise, each time you practice saying and meaning your yes’s and your no’s the easier it gets. And besides, do you really want to spend the majority of your time with someone who doesn’t respect you?

2. Practice self-care

Self-care is not selfish. Let me make that perfectly clear.

Make sure to take the time to invest in yourself. A full pitcher can pour out glass after glass. However, an empty cup doesn’t have anything to give to others let, alone have anything for sustainable for itself.

Make sure to get roughly 8 hours of sleep per night. Our bodies need that time to recharge and prepare for the next day. Stay hydrated. Eating a balanced diet is another area that is key. No one is perfect. I love a big mug filled to the brim with rich hot chocolate and marshmallows, and on occasion I allow myself to have it. But I also know I need to take care of the body I have. Give it the proper fuel so it can do its best. What do you enjoy that helps you relax? A massage? Pedicure? Reading a book? Meditation? Going for a run?

Think of our bodies like a car. You have to keep it maintained with fuel, oil changes, washing, and so on, so it does what it is designed to. We are no different. Our body, mind, and soul need taken care of.

3. Do not enable

Enabling is different from helping. We can help someone when we do something for them out of love that they can not do for themselves. Enabling is believing we are doing the above for those reasons, however the person can very well do it for themselves. They maybe play the victim or be passive aggressive in order to have you assume the role of caretaker. This is a sign of immaturity. People are more than capable to do many things. In fact, I believe we can do anything we put our minds to, all it takes is effort. Sometimes it may feel as though we are being unkind or cruel by withdrawing “help”. But I assure you giving people the opportunity to grow is a great gift.

Be aware of what help they actually need and when they are exploiting or manipulating.

4. Think, don’t feel

Toxic individuals generally are emotionally immature. They don’t know how to process their emotions in healthy and proactive ways. The ways they do behave come across as hurtful, cold, and downright mean.

It’s tricky to communicate to them after their words and actions just hurt you. Maybe in the past you’ve tried to share how you were feeling and instead of it helping, it just made them madder or worse, they turned the tables and made you feel bad for bringing it up. Now you are the bad guy.

The trick when communicating with them goes against regular communication rules. These individuals aren’t comfortable with feelings, they are thinkers. So speak to them in their language. Be logical, give as little as you can to any conversation. This may take some work as it may not be your normal way of operating. I guarantee, if you keep yourself from engaging with them in the ways that trigger their toxic behavior, you will keep yourself strong and safe.

5. Surround yourself with safe community

The power of safe and empowering community is truly an amazing thing. I can say from experience how important this aspect is to your overall wellness. Many leadership gurus and personal development experts agree that we become a combination of the 5 people we are closest to. There is plenty of truth to that. Human beings are meant to live in community. Toxic individuals tend to alienate their victims so that they do not have a support system.

Find a way to connect with people. They could be at your work, a church or spiritual organization, even meetup.com has great resources for like-minded people to connect. Spending time with healthy people will empower you and help provide the strength to continue with your boundaries and self-care.

6. Limit exposure

If your partner makes you feel unsafe, has threatened you, assaulted you, or generally makes you feel nervous or uncomfortable, do your best to limit your one on one time with them. Meet in public places if need be. Let a family member or friend know when you are planning on being around.

BONUS: Let go

As hard as this is to hear, leaving may be the best thing you can do for yourself. Leaving is empowering. It’s standing up and saying “No, I won’t allow this to continue. I deserve better.” The term “No Contact” is used to describe an approach where the abused cuts all ties with the abuser. They do not see them or speak to them. They put measures in place to ensure contact cannot be made electronically, such as blocking phone numbers or text messages, email, and blocking profiles from social media. It may also meaning moving, changing phone numbers, and so on.

Some toxic people are not ready for growth and change. Why? It isn’t your job to figure that out. It’s your job to take care of you.

3 Simple Steps That Will Immediately Improve Your Marriage

I'm super excited to welcome my friend Michael McGreevy to the blog. Michael and I have connected several times about our experiences coaching and being coached. I asked him to share one of the stories that really connected with me, which I'm stoked to share with you today. Michael is a 48Days Certified Coach and founder of McGreevy Leadership.

Michael helps men uncover the gold within them so they can face fear and take massive action toward a life of passion and purpose.  Everyone has an epic story that’s waiting to be lived. Michael helps men uncover that story, create a clear plan, and take massive action toward living it.

He and his wife Lydia welcomed their first child in January 2015, so be sure to send prayers and well wishes in the comments or directly to Michael.

3 Simple Steps That Will Immediately Improve Your Marriage.“I just wanted to tell you, I don't know what you are doing with my husband, but he's a totally different person. He is extra amazing! I think everyday how LUCKY I am…”

I was a little shocked when I received this message from my client's wife. One of his goals was to have an amazing relationship with his wife and dramatically improve their communication. We took a few steps toward this goal but to hear his wife say, “he is extra amazing!” after two weeks, had me wondering what had happened.

1. Argument Free Growth

Too often, discussions about relationship challenges between a husband and wife are held in the middle of a disagreement. Arguments start to become associated with “working on the relationship.” No wonder this topic is so often avoided! As self-aware and introspective as you might think you are, it is almost impossible to make significant progress when you're angry or feeling attacked. What if working on your relationship was in no way related to an argument or negative event?

A good way to start this conversation is by taking a personality profile together and comparing your results. I had my client and his wife take the DISC Personality Profile and we set up a time to talk through the results together. The DISC is around $30 per test. There are many others available such as Myers Briggs, Enneagram and Strengths Finder. I've found the DISC to be the simplest to understand.

(Side note: If you're interested in taking the DISC email Michael at Michael@mcgreevyleadership.com)

It gave them a conflict free starting point to talk about personality differences and the unique struggles and strengths of each person.

My client became aware of things that he had never learned in the throes of their disagreements. Her needs became more clear and he began to better understand why she did what she did.

Action Item 1: Take a personality test together and schedule a time to compare results.

2. Ask Her “The Question”

You may assume you know what your spouse wants and have already decided that whatever you do, will never be enough. Is it more money, more romantic dates, more flowers, more time, more help around the house? When is the last time you asked this question? Ready for it, here it is. “How can I love you and support you better?”

My client assumed that his wife was unhappy because he wasn't providing a long list of things that he thought he was supposed to do but could never keep up with. Then, he asked, “The Question.” To his surprise, her answer was simple. “I want you to hug me, kiss me and tell me how much you love me.” What? That's it? “Yup, it makes me feel more loved.” This slight genuine expression has dramatically improved their relationship.

Action Item 2: Ask “The Question”

3. Ask Yourself “The Question”

It's easy to try something for a day or even a week, but it always seems to fizzle out after the craziness of life takes over. Asking this question everyday can help keep you on track. “What can I do to make her feel loved today? One thing big or small every day adds up to an amazing relationship over time. It can be as simple as a note telling her that you are thinking about her or doing all the dishes and telling her to rest. The trick is, you have to be willing to respond to this question with action even if you aren't getting what you want from her. That is part of loving her unconditionally. She is the most important person in your life, find ways to make that perfectly clear.

Action Item 3: Ask this question everyday: What can I do to make her feel loved today?