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How Wives Can Help Their Husbands Parent Together

Parenting Together

It’s been a slow go, but I am trying to chip away at the questions that were given to a few of us to answer during a men’s panel that I was on. I thought I would handle the topic of parenting together next.

Here is the question: How can a wife help her husband feel that they are parenting together?

This question can mean something different depending on your household dynamic. I will do my best to be as general as I can and get specific when need be. In my home, my wife runs the day-to-day of the household. I work during the week and she is at home running the house. My wife spends a lot more time in the home than I do and a lot more time with our kids than I do as well. It is the current state of our household. I work outside of the home, she takes care of the family and our home. I help as much as possible around the house, but sometimes I feel like it is her house that I am living in. I know this is not true, but sometimes it can feel like it. I am trying to work to change the amount of time I spend at work. Right now, I work a typical 8-5 day. Now that we live closer to my office, I often come home for lunch. I used to photograph a lot of weddings on weekends but have cut back a lot so I can be home on as many weekends as possible.

My goal is to be able to reduce the amount of time I spend working during the hours my children are awake. I love my business, but I am missing valuable time I could be spending with my children. My kids are young and want to spend time with me. When they get older, they will have friends and other activities which will leave me plenty of time to work more if I want to. So let’s get back on topic.

Most men work and are not around the home as much as their wives are. This is the case in my household. Some households have a working husband and wife, but often the wife still runs more of the home than the husband does. My wife spends all day with our children. I see my kids for about an hour in the morning and for a few hours in the evening before bed. I get the weekends with them as well, but weekends are a different dynamic than the work/school week. I feel like more parenting happens during the week and the weekends are more fun and activities. During the week, my wife does most of the parenting on her own. When I get home, I help with dinner, play with the kids for a while and help put them to bed. Part of my evening routine with my wife these days involves relaxing. By the end of the day, we are both tired and just want to chill.

In business, there have been situations where I become part of a project that was already in motion. Though I feel I have a handle on the project and understand where it needs to go, taking action without knowing every nuance could lead to a blow up down the road. This often happens at home with the kids. I find myself in situations with my kids and parent the way I feel is right in the moment, but sometimes my method ends up clashing with something my wife has already tried or set in motion. I get frustrated because I was not informed. It’s hard to stay on the same page when the majority of my time is spent at work and my wife’s time with the kids.

There have been other instances where I have attempted to parent a certain way and then my wife contradicts my method by directing the children in another way without taking me aside and asking me about it first. This happens to all of us. I do it to her as well. Many times we are reacting to a situation. Something happens and we swiftly deal with it. I feel that sometimes we respond maybe a bit too swiftly.

It really comes down to communication. My wife and I do a pretty good job of recapping our days to each other. By the end of the day when I come home, my kids are usually tired. They only have a few hours left before bed so they have had a full day. I often get to deal with the meltdowns that happen during those hours. When I get home from work, my kids are hangry (hungry + angry). Not really. I just wanted an excuse to say that work in this blog. My kids are pretty great and only occasionally have meltdowns the moment I walk through the door.

Parenting on the same page takes communication. Without communication, you are walking into a war zone. The home can be a war zone sometimes. If I was not communicated to, there is unknown intel that I need to navigate the landscape that is our home. My daughter may have had a rough day that involved missing some of her nap and getting disciplined recently for hitting her brother. She could still be upset when I come in the door and try to love on her.

On occasion, my wife will text message me to let me know what is going on. Sometimes it’s during a phone call on my way home. It helps me understand what is going on and what to expect. Knowing what to expect helps me prepare myself and I am able to be what I need to be for each of my children when I walk through the door. Most of our parenting related frustrations with each other has to do with discipline. My wife and I both have our good days and bad days when dealing with disciplining our children. It’s not a simple job and we both kind of hate having to do it.

Big Picture Parenting

Most married couples are on the same page when it comes to the bigger picture. They know how they want to raise their kids and what they want their kids to experience. Some couples may have a few differences in the big picture area, but it’s easier to work on those differences because they are part of the bigger picture. There is a lot of time between thinking about those things and having to act on them. Bigger Picture items could include what kind of school we will send our children to and whether or not we will allow our kids to drink soda. These are not typically “in the moment” decisions we have to make.

In The Moment Parenting

Most parenting decisions are made in the moment. They are responses to situations that transpired. This is where differences start to become clear between a husband and wife. Decisions made in the moment lack communication. We feel that we need to act right away, so we make a decision. This decision may be a new one, which was not discussed prior to acting on it.

Because we feel that we need to shut down the situation in the moment, it often ends up being a sole parent decision. Usually, that has to do with discipline. My wife and I have most of our issues there. We often see pretty eye to eye, but we have our moments.

There are other decisions that we make in parenting that end up being in the moment when they could have waited until later. Not everything has to be handled in the moment. I recognize that sometimes it is just easier for my wife to make a decision on something at that moment. At work, I make decisions all day. If I had to stop and check with someone else before making my decisions, it would drive me crazy. I do understand that it is often easier just to say yes, or no, or sign up for something at that moment because it seems right. It might also seem like a small thing that doesn’t matter to you, so you deal with it in the moment.

All of these “moments” throughout the day are often something the other spouse misses out on. Those moments add up and can make a person feel like they are not really doing any parenting. I have moments of my own like that, but I realize that my wife and I have our jobs and we are the CEO’s of our individual jobs.

CEO, CFO, and CPO’s

As mentioned before, my wife pretty much runs the home. She is the CEO of the house. That doesn’t mean she can do whatever she wants. I am the CFO of our home, because I handle the majority of the finances. My wife and I are both CPO (Chief Parenting Officers). It’s a joint position run as a team. She brings her years of Early Childhood Development training and being a Nanny for many years to the table. At the time of writing this, she also has almost six years in the trenches with our children. I am a very observant person who also reads a lot, so I have some of my own tactics and methods that I have developed. I also try to stay very in tune with my children emotionally. I am better at this with my boys than I am with my little girl.

As a team, we are continuously learning what we do well and what we do not. To the best of our ability, we try to do this together. This means that one person is not doing everything while the other watches sports. My wife spends most of the time with our children, but I make sure that I get opportunities to be with all three of my children alone as well. When I am home, I am with my family. I don’t watch sports or other tv shows while my kids are awake. My wife and I do watch shows we like after our kids are in bed. I will watch shows with my kids sometimes. Shows of their choosing (Power Rangers). I make an effort to be involved.

Proactive Parenting

It really does come down to communication. Actions speak louder than words. If you come home from work and don’t contribute, you are not going to feel like you are an equal parent. We are a parent to a child or children. We are a spouse to another adult. It takes intent and you have to prioritize your family over other things to be as involved as your spouse is.

With better communication, you can parent proactively. Talk about your kids together. Tell your spouse about the cool things your kid is doing and the things he or she may be struggling with. Don’t let these things come up and blindside your spouse.

As you can see, it takes effort from both sides. Don’t attack your spouse because you feel that she isn’t including you in parenting decisions. Turn off the football game and talk to her about it. Don’t attack your spouse because he isn’t as involved of a parent as you. If you don’t share much with him, how can he feel as invested as you are?

It’s all about the children. I deeply care about my work, but it will not get in the way of me being an involved parent. Right now it is very popular to work your tail off to achieve in your career. Everybody wants success, and they want it yesterday. The concept of work-life balance is all the buzz right now because people find themselves working most of their waking hours and realize their family is left off in the distance. It’s sad. You can start a hundred companies in a lifetime, but you can only start one family. Sure it is common for people to start second, and even a third family after failing the first few times, but is that healthy? I think not. Give all you have to your family. You can find a way to work and find success. We live in an extremely pliable world these days.

Do you have some tips on how to better include your spouse in the parenting role? If so, share them in the comments below.

Blog Marriage

What is Most Important For Men in Marriage?

I struggle even answering this question because it is hard to answer on behalf of all men, “What’s the most important thing for Men to have in their marriage?” All I can do is answer for myself and hope that my response aligns with other men, perhaps some men can chime in down in the comments section.

Consistency

Men are creatures of habit. At least, I am anyway. I like consistency. I like to know what to expect. I don’t mind being spontaneous at times, but it has to be within my level of comfort, and to be honest, somewhat my idea.

Women are typically more flexible and spontaneous at times, at least from my experience. If they were not, why are women always desiring their husbands be more spontaneous? Not to say that women don’t desire some consistency, I simply think there is a difference between what men and women require to be comfortable.

Most men have a day that revolves around a routine. I wake up every day and follow a very similar routine. Sure it sounds boring to some, but all men have a routine or some kind that is consistent. Routines are very important, especially with children. Routines can be modified from time to time, but the idea of having a routine is that for the most part, you can expect what will happen next.

Thinking about it more, it might not even be consistency that is important, it’s knowing what to expect and not being surprised.

The World is Random

Though I often hold tight to my routine, the world does not understand that. My clients needs don’t always fit into my routine. Having allergies for the last two weeks doesn’t fit into my routine. So the last thing we want after a long day of having our routines tested is inconsistency when we get home.

It is important to me that the place I am supposed to be most comfortable be consistent. After a long day of inconsistency, I just want to fall back into my routine.

Home Can Be Random

My wife and I are both busy people. I run a business and she runs a household with three young children. Both of us spend our day getting wrenches thrown into our routines. This is just part of life. I know that despite the best intentions my wife and I both have at the start of the day, it only takes one client phone call or a child meltdown to throw everything off for the rest of the day.

Recentering

When we get off path, it is important that we recenter. If we continue to go off path, who knows where we will end up by the end of the day. A routine does not have to be 100% consistent every day. There are ebbs and flows in every routine. However, there are cornerstones of a routine that hold it up. It is easy for me to recognize what those cornerstones are with my children.

The routine cornerstones for my children are making sure they go to bed and wake up close to the same time every day. They need to be fed at consistent times. My youngest still takes an afternoon nap. When she doesn’t get her afternoon nap, she falls apart around 3pm. The activities that fill in the gaps can be different each day so long as the cornerstones of the routine remain intact.

Routine Cornerstones of a Husband

I will be the first to admit that when the cornerstones of my routine are threatened, I get cranky. I spend all day dealing with everybody else’s needs, so when I come home, I simply want to fall back into routine for a while. The challenge here is that I also realize my wife has been dealing with the needs of our children all day and would love to curl up next to one of her routine cornerstones as well. This is where I have to remember to give my wife grace first, before showing frustration.

I used to start each day by going to the gym. I still do on occasion, but it has been hard for me to get up early and make it to the gym. When I make it to the gym in the morning, the structure of my routine holds up much better. I also find that my routine is more flexible throughout the day. Having a healthy routine that can withstand some inconsistency requires a good foundation. If your day starts inconsistent, it will most likely end that way as well. Encourage your husband to find a way to start his day in a positive way. He shouldn’t be leaving the house stressed, he should be leaving replenished. Husbands, make sure to encourage your wife in the same way.

Syncing Routines

Communication is important here. A wife will not know what is important to her husband if he does not tell her and vice-versa. You should make it a goal to discover the cornerstones of your spouse’s routine so you can strive to achieve consistency in those areas. Once you both have a good understanding of these cornerstones, you can reform the foundation of your routines to match. The cornerstones of our routines mainly contain similar things, we just need to sync those up and add in some consistency to prevent structural damage.

I mentioned it before, men are creatures of habit. We can be a bit abrasive when our routines are shifted. I have found my routine threatened simply by my wife making me breakfast. I normally handle my own breakfast so when I am surprised by a breakfast containing items I did not choose, it throws me off for a second. In that moment, I have to remind myself that my wife was thinking about me and decided to make me breakfast. I should be happy about that. I literally have to remind myself that every time. I have recognized that I would rather appreciate my wife for an unexpected breakfast than get upset about my routine being threatened. It takes work. One time she made oatmeal for the kids and I. Apparently I was not interested in the unexpected oatmeal she made for me because my response was, “I hate that kind of oatmeal.” Yes, I sounded like a four-year-old.

How to achieve consistency

You will first need to find out what the cornerstones of your spouse’s routine are. Once you have that figured out, you can work that into the household’s routine. If you are typically the one who cooks dinner, make sure it is at a consistent time. If dinner seems to be a stressful situation for your husband because of inconsistency, send him a text message mid-day and let him know what will be cooking when he comes home. Understand that mid-day is also a good time to suggest eating out if you foresee the day getting away from you. I have also realized that giving my wife a solid notice before I disrupt her routine is important as well.

Consistency is simply what I find important during this chapter in my life. It might not be what you need or what your husband needs. Each person is different and has different needs. If you pay close enough attention, you should easily be able to figure out what the cornerstones of your spouse’s routine is.

My Grandparents were married just shy of 68 years when my Grandmother passed away. They retired when I was young. I remember them having a solid routine. My Grandfather would spend time out in his shop building things. My Grandmother would spend time in her office researching and reading. They were a pretty well-oiled machine. They had a routine that included spending time together and time in their zones working on things they loved. If you called them at 11:20 in the morning, you knew they were just sitting down to lunch.

Using my Grandparents routine as an example is hard to compare to a young family with three kids, but I believe that their marriage lasted until the end because they found a way to provide consistency to each other in the areas that mattered most. Watching my Grandfather struggle to find a new routine after my Grandmother’s passing confirms this.

Let me know what you think about this. Is routine important to you? Do you think it’s important to your spouse? What areas of your routine are frequently disrupted? How do you think you could fix it?

Blog Marriage

5 Guys vs 100+ Women – Mens Panel

I was asked, along with five other men, to be on a panel for a women’s group (one of them couldn’t make it today). The group is for women of children who are preschool aged. My wife has been attending this group since our oldest was born. It’s a pretty large group that meets every other week for a couple of hours. It’s called “Mothers of Preschoolers,” you can find out more about this group here.

Some of us on this panel are younger families with kids who are preschool aged, and others on the panel have children who are well into their adult years. It provided for a well-rounded range of responses to the questions. The questions that we were asked were provided to us in advance so we would have time to think about them. Imagine a bunch of guys on stage in front of over 100 women being asked questions on the fly.

The questions were put together by the women in the group. What I first noticed about the questions was how tied to a specific emotion each question was. As men, we often ask simple questions that require a simple resolution such as, “do you want Chinese or Mexican food for dinner?” These questions were rooted a bit deeper than my male brain typically ventures on a regular basis. Perhaps this is why these women had these questions to begin with. Most of these questions are pretty hard to answer in a sentence or two. It was hard to get through too many of them in the one-hour long panel. Even having prepared a bit, it was still hard to answer some of them because there are so many variables to consider.

I was intrigued by these questions as I went over them with my wife. It was quite apparent which questions were written for me to answer as there were a few tech and social media questions thrown in there. The reason I was interested in these questions was because I think as Men, we assume that our wives should already know the answers to them. There are a lot of things that we might expect to be a certain way, and when they are not, we either bury the issue or complain about it. If you are like me, you probably bury it. Most men choose to pick their battles and ignore the rest. This likely leaves our wives feeling confused with no solid direction in the matter.

If we don’t give our wives information or feedback, how are they going to know how we feel about things? I think society has made it harder for men to feel comfortable doing this. The concept of “the man” has changed a lot since our parents generation, and even more since their parents generation. Though my wife considers her occupation to be a homemaker, I don’t treat her as an employee. I do realize that I might have gone in the opposite direction in an attempt to prevent coming across as a demanding husband. We all need feedback and occasional direction.

I run a business with employees and clients. I spent my entire day dealing with requests and either delegating or, handling them personally. When I come home, my kids want my immediate attention, and my wife is relieved to see another adult. Most days I dive right in, other days I feel like flopping down on the couch and sending everybody to other rooms. I try to be as open with my thoughts and feelings as I can, but I know that more often than not, I show no signs of what I want or how I want it.

I think that we often assume that our spouse knows what we want or how we feel about something without having to say it out loud. Sometimes I feel that wife has been married to me for almost eight years, she should just know. The problem is that she doesn’t, and I don’t know what she needs as well as I think I do at times either. It takes communicating these things, and it feels awkward. It seems awkward because we seldom do it. Looking at these questions I initially thought that a spouse should just know the answers to some of these things, but they don’t.

I do not believe that I received this list of questions so I could pick a question or two and only answer them at this panel. I immediately felt that some of them needed to be answered publically. Not because my answers will be able to speak on behalf of all husbands, but so that men can see some of these questions and how I attempt to explain them. My answers won’t be perfect. I am not yet sure how to respond all of them, but they will be honest. I plan to take them on one at a time, here on this blog.

Over the last few years, I have felt a tugging on my pant leg to write to other Dads out there. I have somewhat ignored that tugging because I don’t feel qualified to write about parenting. Most of the guys on stage with me today have many years and much more wisdom than I have to offer. What I have discovered is that there are not a lot of men out there sharing ideas or advice about parenting, especially young men. There are a few books and some blogs, but not enough of them. I have also felt a desire to help Men understand that they can achieve success in their career without trading the success of their family for it. I’m not quite sure how to flesh that out yet though.

With permission from the group that hosted the panel, I am going to try and tackle these questions. There were thirty-six questions provided to us, I think about twenty-five of them are something I can answer. I will try and collaborate with my wife on this as well and get her thoughts on these questions and any feedback she has on my responses. When I don’t feel like I have a clear answer to give, I will try and reach out to those who have more experience and wisdom to offer.

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Blog Marriage Personal Development

We’re ok, because we saved

Savings

Prior to getting married I wasn’t very good at saving money. I guess I didn’t really have a reason to save money unless there was something that I wanted which required saving for. A little over eight years ago I was engaged to be married, didn’t have hardly any money in my bank account, and nothing in my savings account. It was at that point I realized that I needed change because I might have been okay up until then existing without a backup plan, but I was not about to enter into marriage without a plan.

I ended up selling off a lot of stuff including DVDs that I never watch and my home entertainment system to get some money in our bank account. After that, I started saving whenever I could. Still wasn’t as good as some people who manage to save a large portion of their income however I was doing much better than I ever had in regards to saving.

After about eight months of marriage it was quite obvious that building a savings account was going to be one of the most important things that we did together. We ended up miscarrying our first child and were denied coverage by our health Insurance provider. That instantly put us $20,000 in debt. Thankfully, besides some savings, I was also able to empty and old 401(k) that I had never touched to pay everything off. Now our small savings account was depleted.

We continued to save when we could. We could’ve saved more but we like to travel and eat out occasionally. We were then blessed with our first born child. Being self-employed, private medical insurance is pretty expensive. Our health insurance plan had a pretty high deductible and maximum out-of-pocket responsibility. That year, we ended up emptying our savings account once again, to pay off medical bills.

When our firstborn was six months old, I decided I would be more productive if I moved my office out of our third bedroom and into an actual office. That meant taking on a bit of overhead and at the same time, I hired an employee. We still tried to save when we could and thankfully we had a few good months where we were able to save a lot.

Our second child was born in February so we met our max out our out-of-pocket responsibility with our insurance the calendar year before he was born and during the first two months leading up to his birth. Our oldest had fallen and broken his leg two weeks before his brother was born which resulted in me being off work for a couple of months to help my wife with our newborn son. My oldest son was in a body cast from his waist down which made him very difficult to pick up and move around. Thankfully our savings and the success of one of my businesses was experiencing carried us through this time.

Later that year our oldest ended up in the hospital again with an infection. Thankfully it was during the same calendar year that we had already maxed out our out-of-pocket responsibility, so we just had to pay our co-pays on everything, and I missed a few weeks of work. At this point, we were able to pay off everything immediately without carrying any additional debt.

The next year was kind of up-and-down. My business was busy some months and very slow others. I had hired a couple of employees here and there which did not pan out like I had hoped so overhead was higher than usual. My oldest son also started preschool that year. We had decided to try the preschool at our church, which was not exactly cheap. Our savings allowed us to send him there without worrying about sacrificing by sending him to a cheaper school where we didn’t know anybody.

Then our daughter was born, so we maxed our out-of-pocket again. Let me remind you of the $10,000 maximum. Yes, it still hurts to think about it. In hindsight, we could have delivered our children in Costa Rica for a fraction of that. Our savings account came to the rescue again. This time, I put the payment on a credit card with points for Amazon.com and immediately paid off the credit card.

We had outgrown our home and it was time to find a new home to rent. We had been renting, which also allowed us to save more money because we did not have to spend it on repairs and other costs associated with home ownership. Still, we could have been saving more, but we enjoyed several vacations and still enjoyed going out to eat often. The increase in living expenses took some time to adjust to. During the week we were planning to move, my wife came down with a pretty bad infection that had her in the hospital for over a week. Thankfully our family stepped up and helped us move, and the savings account once again helped us avoid debt.

In 2015, we had saved more money than I have ever had been able to keep for more than a week. We had used credit for a few things, but with zero interest. I had saved money only to empty it out for bills so many times that I was doing whatever I could to avoid having to touch our savings. I had a few investment accounts that were not doing much that I was occasionally contributing to. The months of May/June have become expensive months for us because there are multiple things that come due. We now have two children in school as well. This June, we had school tuition, car insurance, renters insurance, business liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance all due at the same time. In the past, I would pay several of these monthly because I didn’t want to touch that savings account. This time, we decided it would be best to pay everything in full so we would have less monthly expense to worry about. This proved to be a good decision leading into the holidays.

One of my employees was to have his first child with his wife and I wanted to be able to give him some time off for that. Because of savings, I was able to do that. A couple of days before Christmas, our landlord informed us of a rent rate increase followed by a notice to vacate the property (a story for another day). Our savings will once again play a role in keeping us comfortable.

I understand that was a very long prelude into a post on the importance of savings but as you can see, it is important. Most people do not think about savings and live outside of their means. They put expenses on credit cards and spend money that they should be saving. We will all encounter unexpected expenses and it is our responsibility to pay for them. Nobody owes us anything.

I could have purchased a home with cash had it not been for the cost of health insurance and what we have had to pay in premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses but it is my responsibility to pay it. Taking a cheaper route was not an option when it came to the health of my children.

One fear most self-employed people have is disability. We do not have the same disability options as those who are w2 employees. Since I do not pay into disability, I would not have it for long if something were to happen to me. This is another important reason for savings. Making sure you have at least 3-6 months of money saved so you could afford to live should you need time to recuperate from something is extremely important. There is a much higher chance that I would get hurt and have to take time off from work than be taken out completely (life insurance).

Saving money can be hard

I began saving money by taking money from my account immediately after placing it there. Before I could even come up with a purpose for that money, I had put some in savings. For me, it had to be automatic, so I set it as an automatic transfer from my bank account. I even transferred it out of the bank account I had a debit card and checks for because I knew it needed to be a couple of days away from my main account.

Saving is a sacrifice

Saving money means not spending it on something. This can be hard because there is no shortage of things to want. As a photographer and someone who loves tech, every day is a new challenge for me. Just today, a new handheld rig for my camera came out and I just know how awesome it would be to shoot video with that rig. Do I need this new $2200 rig? No I do not. That has been my problem over the years that has kept me from saving more than I already have.

Saving means showing restraint. It means saying no sometimes. I have found that putting a few days between me and available money is enough time to keep me from spending it on something that I think I need right now. I make impulse buys quite often if the money is there, so I have to remove the money and put it somewhere else.

You have to be vigilant

Even if all you have to save each month is $20, that $20 should get put in savings and forgotten about. Having my money in a savings account at another bank made it easy for me to forget about it. When I looked at my checking balance I saw what I had to live on. If it was enough for some fun, we would have fun. We are still battling with being consistent. Some years the first half of the year has looked much better than the second half. Being self-employed, I don’t receive a paycheck every two weeks. Some weeks I get paid, others I don’t.

You have to want it bad enough

My motivation was my wife. I didn’t want her to suffer the hardships I had put myself through by spending all of my available funds with a week or two left in the month. My wife and I both were not very responsible with our money before marriage. Our rude awakening was our first encounter with medical expenses. Sometimes you need a good kick in the pants to get on track.

You have to automate it

As I mentioned before, if you are bad at saving money, you have to automate it. I think that automating the process is good for anybody, even if they are good at saving. Though I don’t have a regular paycheck, I have some recurring income that comes in each month. That is my baseline savings. Once that hits the account, a chunk of it is transferred away. Later that month, once I have enough money in the account to cover the next months expenses, the rest is put in savings.

We used to handle vacations by just paying for them out of savings, or if I had extra money in checking however, that has changed too. We now have automated savings set up for a variety of things. I started this just shy of a year ago for a few items and setup a few more late last year. We have separate savings accounts for the following items and each savings account gets something each week. You can set automatic transfers for any dollar amount, even $1.00.

  • Basic Savings Account (Our main savings account)
  • Insurance Costs (Health, car, home, business, etc.)
  • Children’s School Tuition
  • Charity (Used to help people in need)
  • Adoption (We are planning to adopt and have a savings account for adoption expenses)
  • Children’s savings accounts (Somewhere to put their birthday money and save for their future. Once for each kid.)
  • Travel Fund
  • Racing Fund (For Quarter Midget racing expenses)

My prayer is that we will be protected from having to clear out savings accounts for unplanned expenses. We don’t have a lot of money saved, but we could weather a small storm or two. Since using a bunch of our savings to pay for items in full, we have been able to save even more. Instead of paying for school tuition out of our main savings account, we set up a separate savings account for that. I took the projected amount we would need for tuition that would be due in June of 2016 and divided that by 52. That amount is taken out each week and put into savings. As of writing this, that account is already more than half way to paying tuition in full. No surprises.

We often allow things to surprise us even if we knew they were coming. Last year I knew that our kids school tuition was coming up, so it was a bit of a surprise when I realized how much it would be with two kids now in school. Our goal this year is to automate even more savings until we are to the point where even future big expenses such as cars are saved for.

In Closing

What are some of your savings goals? Have you been able to save? If so, what method worked for you? Saving money is an ongoing exercise in restraint. It’s like dieting, you have to put off what you want now for a later payoff. Our goals are to be able to pay for our next vehicles in cash, save at least 50% to put down on a house (this goal may change to save to buy a home with cash), continue to pay our children’s school tuition, and be able to take a vacation each year.

Blog Business Marriage Parenting Personal Development

Money Ain’t The Motive

I can’t honestly start this post off by saying money has never been a motive of mine. When I was younger, money was a motive. I wanted to make more of it, so I could buy things. Money was not talked about as it is today. There were no podcasts on finances. Only people older than your Dad were talking about it. What we did have was the beginning of what MTV and the influence rap music was having on us. It was all about money and getting it any way possible. After maxing out a credit card and slaving to get it paid off, I had learned my lesson. I did not like being a slave to anything. What took me many more years to learn was how to actually save money. There always seemed to be something I wanted and I never had enough money to have what I wanted and save money at the same time.

In my early 20’s, one of my businesses required me to work long hours. It was a lot to have on your shoulders. The retail space is hard but stack two online businesses on top of that, plus some freelance work and it was too much for one person to handle. What I didn’t mind at the time was not having much overhead. I worked my butt off and was able to keep, I mean spend most of the money myself. I had an HD TV before you could even watch anything in HD. Stupid stuff like that. I had became a slave to something else, my business. There are many other ways to lose some or all of your freedom and I have experienced some of those as well.

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Blog Marriage Parenting Personal Development

Some things are just hard

This summer has proven to be pretty challenging. Though we have also had some good times, my family and I have been met with many challenges.

Owning your own business and having a young family of 5 makes for a pretty busy life. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I love my life and what has become of it. What gets hard is when you have issues that arise in multiple areas of your life at once.

So far this summer I have lost my grandmother, made some changes at work, took a 12 day family trip, decided to move to a bigger house, and just recently my wife got over a second occurrence of a week long illness. This time it resulted in a 4 day hospital stay. I am NOT use to anything other than my wife being strong and supportive. If anybody slows down, it’s usually me.

I learned not to be selfish because I used to be one of the most selfish people out there. I came to realize that there are very few people that will be in your life for the long haul. Those people deserve 100 percent of you. They come first before all else. Thankfully I have a business that runs relatively well even if I can’t be in the office every day. When I need to handle family situations, I can be there. It’s what I wanted for my life before I got married and had kids. I’m very thankful that things panned out that way. Being in my profession I could easily be working for a company out of town that would not offer near the flexibility.

In my lifetime I have learned that difficulty comes to me all at once. It is not evenly spread out. I know that God recognizes the fact that I would not deal well with a constant struggle and I am truly blessed to have only had the struggles I have experienced so far. Though they are stressful at the time, I get through them and move on as if nothing ever happened. Moving on is the key to surviving.

What is tough is always assuming that something is around the corner. When I start to get ahead, something happens. It’s like clockwork. I don’t even like to entertain the idea that things are going well because from experience, I know that is just the calm before the storm.

Now it seems that storm has passed, at least until I get the hospital bill. I am starting to catch up on sleep and my blood pressure is probably back to normal. What I realize is that every situation leaves it’s mark on me somehow. It seems to slow me down a bit in one area or another. Growing older means new challenges and hardships to endure. Learning how to meet them and get through them is also a challenge that will probably never end.

My prayer is that God gives me that answer or shows me how I should be handling life in a healthy sustainable way. Everybody has their suggestions on how you should handle things but it’s different for everybody. What works for you might not work for me. Whatever it is, I need to find it. The struggle is real and if we don’t find a solid way of coping with it and strengthening ourselves from it, it will eat us alive.

Blog Marriage

The Secrets To A Happy Marriage

Happy Marriages Infographic

Anytime you put two people together in any situation, there will be ups and downs. It’s how you react to them and how you treat each other through the downs that allow you to have more ups. I saw the below infographic on Lifehacker and as I read through it, I felt proud and frustrated at the same time. So I thought I would break down each section of the infographic with my thoughts and experiences from my own life and marriage. Beware, there will be rants…

1. Happy Couple Ratio: Anybody with any level of intelligence knows that when you keep communications more positive, than they should stay that way. I don’t understand how people let themselves get so negative with their spouse. People are so selfish these days. I hear interactions that some people have with their spouses and I just want to slap them. You chose who you married. Nobody held a gun to your head. You made a choice. Treat that person the way you treated them when you were dating. Treat them the way you wanted to treat them because they were something special that you just had to have in your life. Hopefully this is why you married them in the first place. If you married because of financial reasons, then you were being selfish in the first place. I know so many selfish spouses who seem to only be nice to their wives so long as their own needs are being met. Men like that need to get punched in the face. I know that men are not the only ones who put themselves first but I do feel like we were the ones who did it first. In my experiences, selflessness comes easier to woman than it does men.

You need to communicate more with your spouse and keep it positive. I have three kids under the age of 4 at home. Sometimes they run my wife into the ground. It’s hard work raising three kids so close in age. Do I dare try to put my day on the same level as hers? No way! I know that my day can be tiring, but it’s not the same kind of tiring at all. I compliment my wife on the job she is doing and remind her of how amazing of a mother she is to my children.

We laugh and enjoy moments new and old as often as possible. All of the photos we take with our smartphones play through our Apple TV. At least a few times a week we just sit there and watch photos of our family scroll by. It’s a happy time that I would not trade for any show that could be playing on our TV.

2. In the Bedroom: Yes I agree that intimacy is important, but I don’t think it is “the key” to a happy marriage. It helps, but no amount of intimacy can make up for a selfish spouse or a spouse that does not appreciate the other.

3. Appreciating Each other: My wife and I love to share personal triumphs with each other. When I land a new client, I celebrate with her. When she creates something with her bare hands, I celebrate with her. When our kids hit a new milestone, we celebrate together. My wife knows that I take pride in my work and when I triumph, I get excited about it. That makes her excited, and it makes me feel good that she gets excited. When she creates something, or someone asks her to create something for them, I get excited because I know my wife enjoys it and is good at what she does. I like seeing her happy. That makes me happy. It’s as simple as that.

4. Sharing New Experiences: I love experiencing new things with my wife. I am a few years older than she is so there was some catching up to do, but now we experience new things together. We get away for a weekend and try new restaurants. Sometimes “new” doesn’t even have to enter the situation. We love going to Dewz, which is an upscale restaurant in Modesto. Most of the time, we order the same items, but it is an experience that we enjoy together. The TV shows that we get into are shows we both like, that way we can laugh together.

5. Marriage and Our Happiness: This part of the infographic I did not agree with. Sure everything is easier at the beginning because you have not experienced any difficulties together. This tells me that much of the world does not do a good job dealing with conflict together. My wife and I are not the best at conflict resolution but we respect each other enough to let things go. We don’t hold on to things and let them eat us away. I am sure there are countless things about me that my wife would have never imagined having to deal with when she got married one day, but she deals with them and most of the time I don’t even know it.

Having kids has definitely added stress to our lives but we both agree that our lives are vastly enriched because of our children. If you are less happy after having children it is because you are a selfish person. I would gladly adopt your child and let you go back to your selfish ways. If you did not intend on having children yet got yourself into a situation where you now have a child, you need to suck it up and stop being selfish. Your time of selfishness ended when that child entered the world. Hopefully you realized this when you got married. This does not mean that you can not have the things that you want to have. You just have to recognize the order in which things should happen.

My wife’s happiness is my #1 priority under the sun. When she hurts, I hurt. I know that my life would suck exponentially if she was not in it. Because I recognize this, I will always strive to make her happy. I may fail at it at times but she knows how imperfect I am. My kids come second to her. Yes they have needs that may seem more immediate. I do make sure to take care of those needs and I do not neglect my children. I always check in with my wife to make sure everything is good. I put aside things that I may want to rather be doing to be with her and make sure she is cared for. It is my job alone to care for her and to make sure she feels safe and loved. I took that job from her father the day I married her.

6. Why Get Married? I can honestly say that I come across more people that shouldn’t have gotten married than I do people who I am glad did get married. This is a sad fact. Those who I have been close enough to know enough about their situations I know for a fact that selfishness comes down to the root core of their problems.

7. Kids Impact on a Couple’s Happiness: Sure kids add a new dynamic to a relationship. I am not going to lie and say that it does not make it hard. My wife definitely snap at each other more often now than we did before we have kids, but I have much more satisfaction with my marriage to my wife now that we have kids then we did before. Before we had kids my wife and I had never created anything together. There was nothing that we did that had much of an impact on anything. Sure we took some fun trips and experienced a lot together (we were married a little over 2 years before having our first child), but none of that compares with bringing our children into this world. The Infographic below says that couples are unhappiest when their kids are in preschool and that their happiness levels do not return until after their kid graduates. That is sad and it sounds like a lot of people just can’t seem to let go of their own selfish ways and take joy in their families.

Let me tell you why my marital satisfaction has increased since we had children:

  1. I get to watch my wife mother my children. This is truly amazing. We made the decision together to make sure she could stay home and raise our children. I didn’t want my children to be raised in daycare. I feel like our nation is going to hurt big time because of the decision of parents to put kids in childcare rather than make sacrifices that would allow the mother to stay home.
  2. We are investing ourselves into something together that is greater than us. Though it is hard and some days are all about staying sane, we love investing our time into our children. My wife and I both want nothing more than to raise children that will grow up and be a responsible part of society. We both know that our greatest work in life here on earth are our children.
  3. We also remember to invest in ourselves. My wife and I both allow each other to occasionally take part in hobbies we enjoy. She loves to craft and create things with her hands. I love my work and racing. We don’t go overboard on our personal activities. Sometimes months go by without making a trip to the race track. Sometimes a month or so go by without my wife having time to touch her craft area. We both have set out priorities and make choices to put others first in our family before ourselves.

Is it easy? NO! It’s not easy, but if you think that easy is better than your parents raised you wrong. If you are going to be happy as a married person and happy with having children then your mindset needs to change. You need to be able to find joy in other people’s happiness.

I love taking my wife places and experiencing things with her. I love teaching my kids to do new things and watching them experience new things. God willing, my kids will not know what it’s like to grow up in a daycare. My kids will know what it’s like to grow up with their mothers love and direction. They will know what it’s like to have a hard working father. They will know that their mother could have done great things in the world as a professional of her choosing but decided to stay home and raise them because her love for them was greater than other worldly achievements (plus I remind my wife all of the time that she will still be young when our youngest reaches age 18).

The Michelangelo Effect: I agree that the happiest relationships come from those who bring out the “ideal” selves in each other. Everything about my wife makes me a better person and even though I believe that my wife is just an amazing person regardless, I am sure I do things that make her want to be a better person as well. My wife and I encourage each other to grow. I want her to become the person she wants to be and she wants me to achieve that as well.

Final Thoughts: It all comes down to respect. If you do not respect your spouse, you will be unhappy. You will never be able to put your selfish needs and desires aside if you do not respect them. I respected my wife enough not to live with her before we got married and I decided that when we got married that it was not going to be all about me anymore. My struggles did not need to become her struggles. If you think that your spouse is the selfish one, take a look in the mirror first. My guess is that you are probably more selfish than you think. Happiness is not science nor is it difficult to understand so long as you can make yourself the type of person who can put others before yourself.

Enjoy the Infographic.

Happy Marriages Infographic

HappifyLifehacker

Blog Marriage

Being a Romantic

This year I will have been married for 6 years to a wonderful and patient woman who accepts me for who I am and does not try to change me. I am extremely lucky and often wonder why I deserve her. I do my best to provide for her and our children. I don’t work more than I should, and I make sure that we do fun things as often as possible. Even though we have three children ages 3 and younger, I try to be spontaneous and get us out of the house or even out of town when we can. However, I have allowed the craziness that comes with being an entrepreneur and parent get in the way of being a romantic husband.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our romantic moments. I take her out to nice dinners and try to show her the finer things in life, but I also drown those out with being a typical man and allowing other issues to affect me. My wife is a romantic that loves to watch shows like Dowton Abbey and other british stuff like that. She desires to live in a time where men take their hats off in the presence of a lady and what not. I know what she likes because it’s all pinned on Pinterest. It is not hard these days to know everything about each other even when we don’t verbalize it all.

I have allowed the craziness of having three kids to allow us to sit on the couch most nights staring at our devices. We talk about our day and the kids, but often don’t allow ourselves to completely connect with each other. I know that we are not the only couple that does this. Life gets crazy, and you just want to relax.

I’m not trying to be “Feminist Ryan Gosling” romantic which is comical and annoying at the same time. I just want her to know that daily I am making an effort to show her how special she is to me. Not because my wife has given me any indication that I am lacking in this area; simply because I know that she deserves it and I want to be that kind of man to her.

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