Tag Archive for service

Happy Wife, Happy Life…& The Rest of the Story!

A recent study of 1,981 middle age heterosexual couples supports the saying, “happy wife, happy life” plus more!  What could be more?  Well, it’s not just about wives. “Happy husband, happy life.” “Happy wife, happy life.” They’re both true! A happy spouse Senior Couple - Kiss on the Cheekcontributes a healthier life over time. In fact, the principal investigator of this study observed that “simply having a happy partner may enhance health as much as striving to be happy oneself.” (Read having a Happy Spouse Could Be Good for Your Health for more on this study.) Having a happy spouse may contribute to health because:

  • Happy spouses provide stronger social support.
  • Happy spouses encourage their spouses to get involved in activities that promote good health.
  • Happy spouses may simply make life easier.

So, if you want a healthier life, work to increase your spouse’s happiness. If you want to encourage your spouse’s health, enhance your own happiness. Here are four ways you can do just that!

  • Develop an atmosphere where everyone expresses gratitude on a daily basis. Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you, for your family, for your home.
  • Develop a home environment of service. Seek out ways to serve your spouse every day. Serving your spouse may be as simple as washing dishes, changing diapers, or working in the yard. Doing little things every day will add to your spouse’s happiness.
  • Develop an environment of emotional connection. Take time to emotionally connect with your spouse every day. Respond to your spouse’s attempts to interact and connect. Initiate interactions with your spouse. Support their interests and share your own interests with your spouse.

I’m sure you can think of many more ways to enhance your spouse’s happiness and your own. These four tips simply point to one important fact: enhancing your spouse’s happiness centers on doing little things for your spouse every day. So, do the little things every day. Make your spouse happy because “happy spouse, happy (and healthy) life.”

Increase Your Spouse’s Sexual Desire

A study recently published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Read Article Abstract Here) revealed a simple way to increase your spouse’s sexual desire for you…and you can do it anywhere! Here it is: the secret to increasing your spouse’s sexual desire for

you. You can increase your spouse’s sexual desire for you by being responsive to them outside the bedroom. The authors of this study exposed their findings after having 100 heterosexual couples keep a 6-week diary recording their own sexual desires and the responsiveness of their partner outside the bedroom. Responsiveness emerged as a key factor in maintaining sexual desire over time. Responsiveness to our spouses reveals a deep concern for their welfare and an awareness of what they really care about.  It exhibits a willingness to invest emotionally and mentally in the relationship, making the relationship feel special, unique. When you respond to your spouse’s wants and desires, you also communicate his/her special value in your life. All in all, this leads to increased sexual desire. And guys, the effect was bigger for women. So, the more responsive you are to your wife’s wants and needs outside the bedroom, the greater sexual desire she will feel. Need I say more?

Forget the Flowers & Do the Dishes

A recent study in the Journal of Family Psychology by Matthew Johnson and two other authors (Read abstract here) suggests an association between a husband’s willingness to serve and the couple’s sexual satisfaction. Specifically, 1,338 heterosexual couples were asked about housework (How much housework do you do? What specific chores do you do? Do you have any “beef with the breakdown”?) and their marital relationship. Results indicate that men who take on a fair share of the chores report a higher frequency of sex with their partner and greater satisfaction with their sex life as whole. It appears that acting on the opportunity to serve one’s wife may enhance sexual intimacy. Really, the benefit of living out an attitude of servanthood is not a new idea. The first century evangelist, Paul, stated that we “were called to freedom. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13). Even Christ told His followers, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45). Christ came to serve His future Bride!

So guys, “Sex Begins in the Kitchen,” with serving, just like Kevin Leman suggested in his book of the same title. If you want a more intimate satisfying sex life, start by serving your wife and family. Do the dishes. Help with the laundry. Cook a meal. Clean the bathroom…. Use your freedom and position to humbly serve your wife. You’ll find the results exhilarating!

Pay It Forward…The Surprising “Rest of the Story” For Your Family

We all know and love the “pay it forward” stories. Just last Christmas (2013), a customer at Starbucks generously paid for the order of the next person in line, who also paid for the person in line behind them, and so on…for 1,468 customers! (Read this story here) I also Parents kissing their cute little babylove the commercial (Watch it here) for “Random Acts of Kindness” in which one person shows kindness, inspiring the recipient of that act of kindness to show kindness to another person, who is inspired to do the same…and on down the line, contributing to an ongoing spiral of kindness that results in an Utopian environment of generosity and joy. We love these stories…. I love these stories. But, research suggests this is only part of the story. As Paul Harvey used to say, we need to know “the rest of the story.” People do not only pay generosity and kindness forward. We also pay greed forward. In fact, generosity gets paid forward more often as equality and fairness not as more generosity. And, people tend to pay greed forward more vigorously than generosity. Research suggests this is true for work tasks as well as finances. So, if we are the recipients of a stingy, greedy gift…or, if we are given the worst chores while someone else does the easier, “more enjoyable” chores, we may pass on the greedy, boring task out of our frustration and anger.


What does this mean for our families? An act of kindness to another family member may actually inspire more acts of kindness. A show of generosity toward family may promote more “fair sharing” among family members in the future. Acts of kindness and generosity can create an environment that promotes further kindness and sharing, an upward spiral leading to greater intimacy, joy, and celebration. On the other hand, sticking other family members with the worst chores will encourage them to do the same to another family member. Stinginess, greed, and self-centered actions and decisions by a family member can create a family environment promoting further greed and self-centeredness, a downward spiral leading to further frustration, isolation, and pain. Which environment will you promote in your family? The choice is yours. Start building an upward spiral by practicing kindness and generosity within your family.


By the way, if you find your family already in a downward spiral initiated by stinginess, greed, and self-centeredness, there is hope! The study mentioned earlier also found the negative emotions that drive us to pay greed forward can be reduced and even reversed. In the study, simply having a person rate how much they enjoyed three cartoons (a fun, humorous task) reduced the likelihood of passing the greed forward. So, if your family is caught in the downward spiral of stinginess and self-centeredness, reverse the cycle by stopping “one thing” and introducing “two new things.”  First, stop “one thing”—engaging in stingy, self-centered behavior. Second, introduce “two new things”—kindness and generosity. Think about the other person and offer to do the more menial task (an act of generosity and kindness). Third, add some fun into your family. Play some fun game. Share some funny cartoons or your favorite joke. You can do all three of these things at the same time. Do all three and watch as your family spiral changes direction and becomes an upward spiral motivated by kindness, generosity, and celebration.

Today’s Family Question Is…

Janet Jackson asked “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” (1986 version). In this song, she wondered out loud about why her lover was not honoring her the way he used to honor her. Did you ever ask that question of your family? Everyone in the family gets caught up in their individual activities and runs from one thing to the next. Children run to sports, music, school, church, friends…. Parents run to work, home, church, transporting kids, maintaining the house…. Everyone is doing their own thing and the family winds up in what William Doherty calls the Entropic Family. Chores are left undone and Mom ends up doing them. Requests are ignored as people run out the door to do their own thing or forgotten as I get caught up in what’s important to me. Someone else has to do what another person forgets. In the midst of this busy-ness, family members feel taken advantage of. Parents begin to feel as though they are running a “bed and breakfast” with chauffer services. Children begin to think they are the family slave. Emotional distance grows, frustrations multiply, and anger swells like a tsunami. People start spouting off with Janet Jackson, “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”
Stop. Bring the family together. We need to reframe the question. Let each person ask themselves, “What Have I Done to Honor My Family Today?” What have I done to show my parents how much I love them and appreciate all they do for me? What have I done to show my children how much I love them and admire their character and growth? If you are not sure what you can do to honor your family, try these ideas:
·         When you finish your drink, wash your cup or put it in the dishwasher.
·         Keep your family informed of your schedule.
·         Make time to complete simple chores around the house.
·         Enjoy time with your family, even if it means sacrificing one of your activities.
·         Say thank you and show appreciation with a hug.
·         Ask instead of demand or tell.
·         In general, think about your family members. What can you do around the house to make them happier today? Do that. What would bring a smile to their face? Do it. What will make them feel loved? Get it done. 

Children & Pressure: What’s a Parent To Do?

Our children face multiple pressures. They live in a world where significance is idolized, recognition (being number 1) is sought with great fervor, and self-worth is determined by performance. Those pressures, unfortunately, sneak into our lives as parents and attack our children from within the home…from their own family…from us! Lies and rumors voiced among parents in the community fuel our fears and those fears translate into a performance-orientation. Hearing other parents boast about the accolades, awards, and opportunities their children have received arouses our own insecurities and fans the fear that our children may miss out on the “limited opportunities available” for success. Rumors incite us to encourage our children to prepare their college resume as soon as possible, to become proficient in sports yesterday, and to make crucial career decisions now. As a result, our children are forced to make adult decisions before they are developmentally ready. They find themselves compelled to make commitments to adult pursuits (career, sports involvement, etc.) while still lacking the experience and wisdom to do so. When these pressures sneak into our family life, whether the result of parental fears or misguided dreams, our children suffer. They find no respite, no relief. As family shepherds, we must guard our home against these pressures in order to maintain a refuge for our children. How? Here are a few hints to help.
First, identify the pressures your children face in their school and community. Most likely, they encounter one or all three of the following pressures.
     1.      They may feel the pressure to achieve, perform, and gain recognition. They may also feel that the only way to truly know you have achieved is to earn prizes and awards. In the midst of this performance-oriented environment, children find it difficult to simply enjoy a fun activity. Such an environment threatens to squeeze the joy of internal motivation out of our children and replace it with the craving for external rewards.
     2.      Or, your community may emphasize material belongings. Perhaps the families in your community live by the rule that says “the one with the most toys wins.” 
     3.      Your children may also encounter families that feel the need to give children everything they want, to never suffer the pain of disappointment or discipline…even if it means the family suffers. In these families, children’s schedules and desires run the household. Children grow more entitled every day as their family experiences a growing sense of resentment over their children’s lack of gratitude.
After you have identified the threat, give serious thought to your own beliefs in that area. Parents also risk falling into the trap of community pressure. To avoid the discomfort of seeing our children disappointed or “wanting,” we may give in to their demands and spoil them. We don’t want them to miss out on the opportunities that their peers experience, so we give into their every request and desire. In our desire for them to “have a better life than us,” we push them to perform and achieve in order to get into the best colleges or gain the most promising opportunities. All done with the best of intentions, but none the less, conforming to the pressures of the world that harass our children.
Once you have identified the pressures your children face and confirmed that you do not personally play a role in creating those pressures, you can create alternatives in your home. Since your children most likely encounter at least three pressures, consider at least these three alternatives.
     1.      Replace the pressure to achieve and perform with the grace of unconditional acceptance. Honor one another for effort and learn to celebrate participation in activities by simply having fun together. Allow your family to play and enjoy one another’s company without the need to perform a certain way or achieve a certain level of “expertise.” Have fun just to have fun!
     2.      Replace the emphasis on material belongings with a focus on relationships. Give your family the gift of your time. Let them know that your relationship with them is far more important than any material blessing you might have. Teach them that material belongings do not bring happiness, loving relationships do. Build intimacy with one another. Practice gratitude for the many material, relational, and spiritual blessing you do have…and share gratitude freely with one another.
     3.      Replace a sense of entitlement with an environment of generosity and service. Teach your children that we find greater joy in giving than in receiving. Model generosity with your affection toward them and your service in the home. Teach them by example and actions that service is a sign of true greatness.
Make your home a place of refuge from the world of pressure. Create an environment of honor and grace. Shape your family into a celebrating community of honor and grace.

Promoting Greatness in the Family

Today is Martin Luther King Day. I love so much of what Martin Luther King said. I read this quote from MLK on the MLK Day of Service website: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” What a tremendous question. What are you doing for others? What are you doing for those in your family? What are you doing for those outside your family?
Today is the MLK Day of Service, the “only federal holiday observed as a national day of service- a ‘day on, not a day off.'” It offers people from all walks of life to “answer Dr. King’s challenge to do something for others” (Click here for more info). 
This would be a good day to find a way to serve others as a family. After all, where do people learn to serve? In the home. Loving families encourage helping one another and nurture service to those in the home and those in the community. Families that serve together find a level of happiness and intimacy that cannot be found when everyone looks out for themselves. It is in service that we find lasting happiness. Moreover, families promote true greatness when parents model and encourage service. After all, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Jesus Christ); and, “everybody can be great because everybody can serve” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). Greatness comes through service…and, everybody can serve. We can teach our children to serve at any age; and, in doing so, we promote greatness in their character. So, what will you do for the MLK Day of Service? How will you promote greatness in your family? Here are a few ideas:
     ·         Do a chore for another family member.
     ·         Offer to do some work for a neighbor.
     ·         Volunteer at a place like the Ronald McDonald House, Kane Hospital, or a local nursing home.
     ·         Volunteer to clean the house for a shut-in who is known at your church.
     ·         Bake cookies and deliver them to the nurses at a local hospital.
     ·         Take a walk through your neighborhood and pick up litter.
     ·         Shovel the driveway for an elderly person in your neighborhood.
     ·         Share your ideas in the comment section below.
Enjoy your call to greatness as you serve one another. Please share your additional ideas, thoughts, and experiences in the comment section below.

Protecting Your Child From Depression, Part 2

Children receive a series of immunizations to protect them from various diseases. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could immunize our children against depression? After all, a growing number of people struggle with depression…and, at a younger age. I realize there is no magic shot to prevent depression. Still, wouldn’t it be great to protect your children from depression? To find a way that even if they did experience depression, it would be less severe and shorter-lived?
Well, there may be a way to do just that! No, the answer is not a shot—it’s more of a lifestyle…skills you can teach your child to help protect them from depression. Last week we talked about how teaching children that their actions make a difference can help protect them from depression. Here are two more ways to protect your child from depression.
One, teach your children to help. People who experience depression ruminate about the negative in their lives. They become so absorbed in their own internal pain that they lose touch with what’s going on around them. “Getting out of themselves” and involved in the lives of people around them often helps them escape the self-absorption of depression.
So, to help protect your child from depression, teach them to reach out to others. Give them opportunities to help other people. This may be as simple as helping an elderly woman from the neighborhood rake leaves. There are many opportunities for children to serve—make it a family event. Help at a soup kitchen or go on a mission trip. Shovel snow for an elderly neighbor. Adopt a grandparent at a nursing home. Volunteer to help take a group of people with mental retardation on an outing or go to a local hospital and rock premature babies of mothers addicted to drugs.
These opportunities help children develop a desire to reach out to others and help. In addition, they create new ways of looking at the world around them, helping them to realize the good. One more thing, these activities help children learn that “having a treat” may give momentary happiness, but helping a person in need provides true gratification.
Two, teach your children gratitude. People who experience depression tend to overemphasize the bad events from their past and overlook the positive events. As a person dwells on the negative events from their life, the events seem to grow and overwhelm them. 
One way to counteract this is to develop a strong sense of gratitude in your life. Practicing gratitude helps a person to focus on the positive events in their life—which are much nicer to feel overwhelmed by. In addition, practicing gratitude helps a person grow more aware of the positive events in their past and experience greater contentment. So, teaching your children gratitude may help protect them from depression.
How can you teach gratitude? Spend time each evening talking with your children. Ask them what they enjoyed most during the day. Each night, make a list of five things for which they are thankful. Write these things in a “Thanks Journal” and review the journal every once in a while, reminiscing about the events and material blessings recorded. In addition, model a thankful attitude yourself. Thank other family members for doing things like cooking, cleaning, or laundry. Make it a family pursuit to thank each family member for at least one thing every day. Have fun with gratitude.

The Lost Art of Sacrifice in the Family

William Doherty notes that family member’s made personal sacrifices to assure their family’s well-being, stability, and overall security in the past. During the 1900’s, this focus shifted away from family stability to individual happiness. Instead of the individual promoting the well-being of the family, the family became a tool to promote individual happiness and achievement. Rather than sacrifice for the family, individuals expected the family to sacrifice for them. With this change, individual happiness became more important than family security. “I” replaced “We.” “My needs” took precedent over “your needs” or “our needs.” Competition over whose needs are most important became commonplace and even aggressive at times. In today’s individual-focused family, when you don’t make me happy, I believe you are holding me back and hindering my happiness. The individual focuses on his own desires while disregarding everyone else’s desires. Performance that satisfies my needs becomes the standard by which family members judge one another. Each person engages in his or her own activities and ignores other family members. Family becomes a disconnected group of people putting up with one another’s irritating behaviors while residing in a common living space. A very sad situation for families.
A family style focused on individual happiness really proves detrimental to the individual, too. Where does a child learn to empathize if the family focus is on satisfying personal needs? How can a child learn the joy of sharing and giving to another person if it is not modeled in the family? Where will a child find the security of knowing that his family “has his back” no matter what if family members are more concerned with their individual happiness and reputation than protecting one another? Children need to know that family members are committed to establishing a safe, secure community in which they can live and grow. So, what can be done? How can we protect our own family from the disconnected, individually-focused family so prevalent today? By practicing sacrifice.
When family members sacrifice for one another, the family focus changes from “Me” to “We.” But why would I sacrifice my needs for my family? Sacrifice within the family promotes a sense of community, commitment for the long haul, and dedication to family stability. Family stability translates to a feeling of safety, security, and peace. Sacrifice also communicates love for one another, value for each person, and a desire to join together in growing and maturing. Sacrifice promotes humility, intimacy, and community. 
With those benefits in mind, you can follow these 3 steps to become the catalyst for sacrifice in your family.
1.      Become a student of your family members so you can know and recognize their needs and desires. Keep those needs and desires in mind and act on them. If a family member needs quiet time due to a headache, sacrifice the TV for a while and allow quiet. If a family member desires to sit in a certain seat, let them…even if you want to as well. If there is only one cookie left and your sister wants it, graciously sacrifice your desire and let her eat it.
2.      Begin to view other family members and their desires as “more important” than your own. I don’t mean to forget your own needs and desires, but don’t place your own needs or desires above their needs and desires. Let your family know that you value them and their needs.
3.      Make a commitment to outdo one another in giving honor to one another. Create an environment of honoring one another with the gift of sacrifice. You can sacrifice in little ways like letting another family member get food first at the table or allowing family to go through a door first. You might make the sacrifice of watching what another family member wants to watch on TV or listening to a radio station that another family member wants to hear. These little moments of sacrifice help create an environment of sacrifice, encouraging each family member to think of the “other guy” and sacrifice to meet their needs.

Of Buckets, Mops, and Grace

Grace within the family involves giving of ourselves. Time, energy, and attentiveness represent the currency of the gift of self. As we give our time, energy, and attentiveness to our family members, we show them grace. My friend told me a wonderful story of grace shown from a mother to her adult daughter. The adult daughter was very stressed about temporary changes at her workplace that had added to her workload and disrupted her work routine. As a result, she had to work extra hours to get all the work done. In addition, her husband had to travel out of the country for work, often into dangerous areas. Unfortunately, while the adult daughter was stressed with the increased workload and disrupted work routines, her husband had to travel out of the country for an extended period of time. As a result, she was overworked and without the usual support from her husband. She came home exhausted from work to an empty house. She was worried about her husband, stressed about her job, and feeling overwhelmed. All of this contributed to her housework falling behind.

The adult daughter and her husband had planned on taking a long weekend vacation following his travels. However, the adult daughter now felt too stressed and tired to go away. She was torn between using the weekend to clean the house and get caught up with work or going away with her husband. With encouragement, she decided to go on the vacation and spend time with her husband.

While they were gone, the adult daughter’s mother became a grace dispenser. Because she had given attention to her daughter, the mother was able to anticipate what would help releive her daughter’s stress. So, she went to her daughter’s home and began to clean. She not only cleaned the house, she did the laundry and anything else that she knew would help her daughter feel relaxed. As you can imagine, when her daughter returned home, she was blown away. She was so surprised when she entered a clean house that she texted her mother to say “Thank you.” A few minutes later, she saw another area of her home cleaned and texted to say “Thank you” again. Then she saw the laundry done and texted to say “Thank you” again. She texted a new “thank you” each time she found another thing her mother had done.

This mother had acted in grace. She had given of herself. First, she gave enough of her attention to know that cleaning her daughter’s home would help relieve her daughter’s stress and fill her with joy. She gave of her time and energy to actually go to her daughter’s house and clean. She completed this act of grace with no expectation of return. She gave of her self simply to show her daughter love. She showed the grace of buckets, brooms, and mops.

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