Men: 3 Reasons You Trade Your Family for Your Job

Dads like to stay busy, but they often miss out on a lot of things. Ball practice, field trips, and those special moments right after school or daycare just to name a few. This is the sacrifice men make in many homes because he and his wife decided purposefully, or just by how their work schedules played out, that she would be the one to do most of what many call, “running around with the kids.” 

Men, if we are not careful, we may miss out on much more. Here are three ways we often trade our job for our family. 

1. You work late. While more money makes us all happy, it doesn’t necessarily make our homes happier places or even provide lasting joy. Maybe you have the drive to work more than 40 hours per week. That is fine, but there must be a cap at some point.

2. You think that you only contribute to the family by working. This is a fallacy. While men may feel a great deal of accomplishment by working, they can do so much at home with their kids to ensure they grow up right.

3. You consistently say yes to your employer and no to your family. How have you spent your time during the last week? Keep a log of how much you devote to your job and how much to your kids. You may be surprised. It is sometimes easy to put our families off because they can’t fire us as easily. However, by not doing a good job at home, you definitely lose your influence there.

The solution?

1. Discuss with your wife a reasonable work schedule. Maybe you work late two times a week or maybe only once. In any case, make a plan so that everyone knows when to expect you. Otherwise, you may set yourself up to be a consistent disappointment.

2. Know your family’s schedule. There are many shareable calendar apps that make it easier to know what is going on. Show up to things because they are important to your kids.

3. When you are not at work, be totally engrossed in the moment with your family. Make a big deal about being with your kids, and always make time for your bride. 

You’re away from your other job. Be present in your most important one.

Parenting Effectively

Mama Ain’t Happy

We’ve all heard the expression, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” This is always good for a laugh and it makes for a funny sign to purchase at Cracker Barrel. Also, there is some truth to it. Mothers are often the driving force of morality and civility in a home. They are the embodiment of a home’s comfort and warmth. They are the central figure regarding love and compassion. Yes, if mama ain’t happy, something is terribly wrong and somebody else in the home is doing something wrong.
However, there is an ugly side to this aphorism. What if a mother (or father for that matter) is controlling? What if their wishes are the only one’s that matter? What if this person does not guide with a loving and pious hand but rather rules those beneath her with guilt and the threat of a difficult evening if things do not go exactly her way? Then, nobody’s happy because mama (or daddy) makes everyone miserable.
Maybe it is biology, or as we may say in the south, maybe he is just plain ornery. In any case, someone who is constantly in a bad mood (causing everyone else to be miserable) has some deep soul searching to do. Scripture encourages men to be leaders in their homes and it encourages women to be a source of wisdom and trust (Proverbs 31). If a story was written about you, what would it say? At your eulogy, will the preacher have a wealth of positive, or will he pronounce you deceased and a sigh of relief echoe over your family?
“Someday you’ll be nothing but a memory. Make sure it’s a good one.”

What Is Your Couple Culture?

At, counselor and author M. Gary Neuman analyzes why he thinks Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ marriage failed. In the article, he talks about the obvious in regards to how possessions and fame affect people, but he also discusses what he calls couple culture.
Neuman said that a marriage “needs a sense of meaning and a way to grow together [so] there is purpose” to the union. This culture or purpose is not often discussed because couples are just thrown into it. It comes naturally. Your work, your kids, or your church all give you something to do together. For celebrities, they can often lack couple culture. A couple needs to feel that “life without the other is almost impossible” and a culture provides this, but this is tough when you already have everything. Do you feel as though life without your spouse is impossible? Do you have a daily existence that brings you together? I hope so.
Your culture can be about your careers. Are you helping one another succeed? Do you support your spouse in advancing? This fills a need for the both of you on many levels. There is a financial reason and a level of fulfillment from winning that both of you can get from this. You are proud of the other as he or she succeeds.
Your culture can be about your kids. Are you working to raise faithful Christians, people with strong character, people who will go further than you have in life, or all three? You work together as parents and in short you have something to talk about at the end of the day. You discuss where you think the kids are going, where you want them to be and how you can get them there. You share the responsibility, but also bring your own brand of personality to the parenting experience.
You do not want your culture to be one of arguing. This is easy since couples tend to do this really well. They are bothered by their hard days at work, and lash out at the people they see at home. They are dissatisfied with their marriage so they make each other miserable. They do not know what to ask for and they do not know how to change it. This can be the culture that you have developed and if it works, you will maintain it. It may be dysfunctional, but when you do not know how to do anything else, arguing and a stressful home life is then your culture.
Your culture can be whatever you are both passionate about. In general, you should do something that keeps you together from now until “death parts you.” What direction are you currently pursuing as a couple? Is it together? When you face one another at night, is it a good experience? Are you happy with the day’s events or wish you could do it over? A long talk with each other or with a therapist can be a good place to start in developing a culture where you can be happy.

28 Days to A Better Marriage: Advice on how to have the relationship with your spouse that you’ve always wanted.

In 28 Days to A Better Marriage, Dale handles a variety of topics in a direct way to expedite the healing and empowerment that so many marriages need. The twenty-eight chapters are brief, enabling the reader (husband or wife) to glean useful information in short steps, moving both spouses towards a better understanding of one another and of themselves.
Through Dale’s experience as a marriage counselor, he has learned that most couples in distress make the same mistakes. Twenty-Eight Daysholds within its pages the basic knowledge and tactics that marriages need to thrive. 

Christmas Food, Family, & Friends

I love this time of year, particularly when it snows and you get some hot chocolate and you sit and watch your favorite Christmas movie with your family. I hope you are blessed to enjoy these times. They are what make up the moments that you will cherish the next day, month, and long into old age. Don’t regret the lack of time you spent with your family. Make it happen.

Thankfully, we’re forced to be close during the winter months because no one wants to go outside and face the cold. We in Tennessee believe that the weather will change back to warm quickly enough so why bother getting all dressed up to go out in twenty degree weather to do the things that can wait. We are a patient people when it comes to the weather. We are not as patient when it comes to things that stress us, and this time of year has plenty of that. Here are some tips to make this time of year as joyous as possible.

  1. Don’t do everything: There will be plenty of things to do from now until the new year. Lay out a schedule, plan and follow step two.
  2. Do what is most important to you: Pick and choose because nothing can bring about more stress than making sausage balls half a dozen times to be at events where you know you’re going to be miserable. Say no to things and don’t feel guilty because the most important people you must please are your family and yourself. If your family is happy and so are you then you’re doing something right.
  3. If there are family members that make occasions particularly difficult, you must learn to apply appropriate boundaries. Only speak about those things you can agree on, or don’t speak at all. There are other people you can converse with. This is a time of thanksgiving and celebration. Don’t use it as a time to air grievances. That’s what Festivus is for.
  4. Make time to exercise: Nothing can make the wintry blues worse quite like overeating and feeling bad about oneself. I say enjoy the abundance of delectable delights that are out there, but exercise to balance the extra calories you’ll be taking in. Also, the exercising will help boost endorphins and you’ll feel better emotionally.
  5. Enjoy the season and what it has to offer: Too many of us complain and if there’s nothing to complain about, we’ll find something. You must learn to appreciate things for what they are. There is a Chinese philosophy known as Taoism that says, “Unpleasant experiences need not be avoided or expunged, but can be enjoyed as an integral part of the flow of the world.” Traffic, long shopping lines, and people who think their ugly Christmas sweater is a good fashion statement are as much a part of Christmas traditions as anything else. Learn to deal.
  6. Budget woes got you down? If you are already experiencing credit card remorse, pay them off as quickly as possible during the start of 2012 and start a Christmas account for the following season. Have it auto drafted and forget about it until November. Nothing can bring more joy to the giving than giving out of your abundance.
  7. Lost that Christmas spirit? This is particularly true of families with older children. Ask them if they recall what they got last year for Christmas. They probably won’t. The kids just don’t have that sparkle in their eye anymore because they know about the Xbox game under the tree. They put it in the buggy when you bought it, remember? Start a new tradition and plan a trip using the Christmas money you would normally spend. Coastal rentals are particularly cheap this time of year and Christmas can still be enjoyed with homemade gifts or by a name exchange ON THE BEACH! It’s the memories that will last.
If you’re often tired or don’t seem to enjoy yourself any time of the year, it may be necessary to see a counselor or simply take charge of your life. Making changes now can have lasting effects if you do those things that will make your life enjoyable. I believe it is possible for everyone.

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Texting & Difficult Topics

We finally did it. My wife and I finally got texting. I was an unbeliever for a long time. “I have a phone,” I thought. Why shouldn’t I just call? I might as well be communicating in Morse code, but I have seen the light.
One of the advantages that I have found with texting is that you can broach difficult subjects. It gets to the point and you can think about exactly what you want to say. So, you can be nice about an uncomfortable subject without worrying about your body language or tone of voice. These two features can really complicate things as what you’re really feeling and thinking will be obvious to all. Not that the conflict will be totally avoided, but what needs to be said can be put out there and if the person you’re conversing with wants things to be peaceful, hopefully they’ll follow your lead.

Of course this shouldn’t be done with really serious situations that require discussion and deep understanding. 

"Living Your Own Love Story"

The romantic genre does not top my list of things to watch and read, but I enjoy spending time with my wife and conversing with her about what she enjoys which often includes the latest Nicholas Sparks phenomenon. Therefore, I’ve learned a great deal about this multi-million dollar market.
One of the things I know is that women like romance movies and books, and if men can understand why, they can make their spouses’ lives best-sellers. The latest chick-flick I saw was “Dear John,” and I really enjoyed it. It is what I would call a man-friendly love story as the hero isn’t a blubbering Englishman (i.e. Hugh Grant). Channing Tatum plays John Tyree, a special-forces soldier in the Iraq war who can kick some serious butt. You can’t get much manlier than that.
According to Catherine Lanigan, author of Writing the Great American Romance Novel, all romances are pretty much the same as far as the character elements. In her book, she describes the male hero as someone who is compassionate. He must care about those around him and about what he believes in. Lanigan says that if he’s not compassionate, he’s just a “cold fish or possibly a psychopath.”
Second, the character must be strong in some way. It can be physical prowess, but it can also be commitment to his ideals or in his judgment ability. Next, he must be intelligent and have common sense. Mr. Bean isn’t a good romance hero.
Kindness is an important characteristic of all leading men, but don’t mistake kindness for weakness. He’s never kind to the villains. The hero must also be loyal to the heroine. He can fight with her, but when all is said and done, he will always choose her over everything else. He’s also loyal to those things and people that are important to him. The hero has manners, is complimentary, and never rude except when he has to handle the bad guys.
Men, we must be the above things. Our wives, children, and community need men like this. The guy who works at the cosmetics counter has his place I’m sure, but the world is in need of more John Tyrees. You may be saying, “But I’m not perfect.” Well, thankfully we don’t have to be. Read on.
The final and most important characteristic of a hero in a love story is the fact that he has some sort of flaw. Without this, there is no conflict and subsequently there is no excitement. In “Dear John” Tyree’s flaw was his relationship with his father; something many men can relate to. What is your life’s conflict or your character flaw? What are you doing about it? The answers to these questions may be exactly what your marriage needs.
The imperfection makes the character real, creating a more compelling story. It’s what can make your wife love you too. Sound strange? In romances, it is the hero’s love for the female character that spurs his development in overcoming the flaw. He wants to do better because of her. This is a tremendous compliment to womanhood and your wife will melt when she realizes what you’re doing.
Jack Nicholson said it best to Helen Hunt in “As Good As It Gets.” I refer to this movie often, but it’s so true. Nicholson’s character has stumbled through the entire movie trying to win Hunt’s heart. On the surface he’s somewhat of a non-hero but look closely, and you’ll see that he has all the ingredients I’ve mentioned here. It’s just that his flaw, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is so pronounced. As the movie climaxes, she begs him to make their dinner date memorable. Like many women, she longs for a romantic moment. He nervously fumbles with his words and finally says to her, “You make me want to be a better man.” Shocked, Hunt’s character replies, “That’s maybe the best compliment of my life.” All the terrible things he had done were gone as she finally saw her crucial place in his life. Hunt begins to like him because it was evident that he was willing to change, learn, and be better than he was all for her. Are you willing to do the same for your spouse?
In short, be a good man to those around you and work to become the man your wife will be proud of and want to be around.
Coming Soon: The female character traits in a good love story.

Dale Sadler: Family Counseling Services

Thanks to lots of prayer, hard work, and some great support, I will begin my private practice February 15. This has been a dream of mine ever since I began the program at WKU. I would like to thank all of those who have encouraged me in so many ways; especially my wife, Malita.

For those in the area who are looking for counseling, particularly in the areas of marriage and men’s issues, give me a call at 615-285-0095 or send me an email
I’d like to also reach out to ministers. This job carries with it many responsibilities and those who work with churches in a leadership role don’t usually have a place to go to for counsel. I was a minister for several years and believe I can help this very important part of our community. 
Be sure to visit my website for more information and directions to my office. I will be available for sessions in the afternoons and evenings. Finally, I will be in the company of three very capable counselors and I am so glad that they have given me this opportunity.

Surviving Extended Trips with Extended Family

Every year my family takes a four day trip to the Smoky Mountains. We typically go during Memorial Day, but my nephew and his fiancé wanted to get married there. So, over the New Year’s weekend, we were in Pigeon Forge with the rest of the country enjoying the Christmas decorations and snow. It was the best trip yet.
How can a family who only spends the occasional dinner together get along for four days in a drafty cabin with no closet space or food storage? The hot tub might be partly to blame, but that can’t be all of it. We love each other and get along well but even with these factors, some general rules must be observed if you are to enjoy a trip with your family over an extended period of time. The following is what I have learned during our ten year tradition.

  1. Assign tasks before you go. My sister loves to prepare breakfast. She buys the food and ensures that all eleven of us get fed. Don’t force someone into a job. They should enjoy doing it a little bit, but it must also be understood that it is up to everyone to make sure that a good time is had by all. Everyone needs to pull their respective weight.
  2. Food can be one of the trickier issues because tastes and price vary so much. It’s a good idea to have a general idea of what is going to be done while on the trip. Plan to eat fast food two of the nights and go to a nice place the last night. Some type of plan for breakfast and lunch are also good.
  3. If you want it, you better bring it, or don’t complain that it’s not there. Planning who brings what can and must be done, but don’t assume that your mother-in-law knows that you like Cherry Vanilla Caffeine Free Diet Dr. Pepper in 8oz cans.
  4. If you plan on staying, plan on paying. Cabins and anything that holds large groups can be very expensive, but as it is divided up, the cost per family is not much more than a normal hotel stay. Resentment will permeate the trip if Aunt “Whats Her Face” goes free of charge and has the money to chip in.
  5. Go solo for part of the trip. Especially in places like the Smoky Mountains, there’s a lot to do, but maybe grandma doesn’t want to play Lazer Tag. Talk to everyone and have a certain day or time that people can do what they want. This makes sure that there’s plenty of time to come back together. My niece and I went skiing while we were there because when and where will we have the chance again?
  6. Try something different. Humans are generally reluctant to try anything new. Especially when they are in a different place, they work to hold on to the familiar. However, by trying something new, you get to know one another better through the experience and maybe you develop a new interest. 
  7. Don’t complain. Nothing can ruin a trip more than someone who has a bad time and ensures that everyone else does too with their Eeyore mentality. Being out of your normal routine takes some talent in adaptation. You’re in a different place so accept it and deal with it. If you forget something, there’s sure to be a Wal-Mart in the area. Flexibility is crucial.
  8. Compromise on group stuff. If you don’t get to go to your favorite restaurant the first night, suggest that you all go later because they have the best pizza or whatever it is that draws you there. Make sure there’s variety though. Don’t go to a seafood restaurant without ensuring that there are some non-seafood alternatives. I know it’s strange, but not everyone likes seafood.
Over time, these trips will get easier and easier. They have for us. This year we may spend a week on the coast. What’s after that? Maybe a cross-country RV trip . . . maybe.

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