Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Close Enough to Forget: Complacency Has Met It's Match -- My Wife

About this series:  We all need encouragement, to be reminded we matter. Sometimes the nearest and dearest to us get the least of that needed encouragement. We've all spread ourselves too thin at times leaving little reserved for the ones we've committed to give to most, our spouse. So we're going to do something about it. We're going to focus on the ones living right under our own roof, sleeping in our own bed. But no worries if you're spouse-free. You can apply the encouragement to someone in your life who needs it: children, co-workers, friends, family members. Any soul will do because we all long to know we are seen and heard. Wherever you see "spouse," substitute someone else's name.  So grab a cup of coffee or whatever it is you're drinking today, and get ready to give a little. You'll be glad you did.
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Today, we have Craig Ferguson.  My husband.  Can I just say there were tears?
Don't poke the bear (i.e. Jen)!
There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt.  It's the idea that once you get to know someone, you'll fully see their faults, their shortcomings, and their annoyances.  Further, it is the knowledge of these that will keep you from loving, or respecting the other person.  When I look at my marriage, nothing could be further from the truth.  For those of you who don't know, Jen and I have been together over 14 years; twelve of those have been in marriage.  I can safely say that we have become familiar with one another and I respect and love Jen more today than I ever have.  Not to brag, but Jen is an amazing woman.  She will often say or do something that gives me yet another reason to thank God for putting her into my life.  But, for me, this familiarity presents a challenge.  A challenge not to become complacent.  Not to become lazy.  Not to become satisfied and settled with the status quo.  For me at least, familiarity breeds both comfort and complacency.

So, how does this comfort and complacency manifest itself?  A prime example was last weekend.  Jen had spent a couple of days cleaning the house.  Now when Jen cleans the house, she cleans the house.  Like art museum clean.  In addition, she did all of the laundry (a task that I normally assume).  I had some friends over for a game night and she cleaned up after us, twice.  The proper thing for me to do would have been to thank her as soon as I noticed each of these acts of service.  But, comfortable and complacent Craig missed that opportunity.  Naturally, Jen was hurt by my lack of response and her hurt was communicated by her attitude and demeanor towards me.  Does any of this sound familiar, guys?  Well, after about a day of this, I finally asked her what was going on.  Jen responded truthfully, that I had hurt her feelings by not vocalizing that I had noticed her efforts and thanked her.  Now, I had an opportunity at that point to respond properly.  However, this was my response, "Did you do all of those things in hopes of receiving praise?"  It should be noted here that this was the absolute wrong thing to say.  A serious discussion ensued which ended with me putting myself in time out.

After thinking on the error of my ways and how I was to rectify the situation, I reengaged my conversation with Jen in a much more humble fashion.  First of all, I apologized for my reaction to her honesty, and secondly, I thanked her for all that she had done.  During the course of the conversation, it had occurred to me that what Jen wanted was so simple and so easy to give.  Yet, it required that I pay attention and look for opportunities to surprise and delight her.  And therein lies the lesson, guys.  Our wives want to be appreciated.  They wanted to feel loved.  Translation: they wanted to be wooed!

Do you remember the days of agonizing over how you were going to surprise your girlfriend?  How you were going to show her how "romantic" you were?  Well, if you were like me, that girlfriend is now your wife and those days have been too far gone.  Jen deserves to be cherished.  She is beautiful and should be honored as such.  And unfortunately, I have failed, again and again.  But like the love of God, she showers me with grace.  Each day is a new day.  It's up to me to be glad and rejoice in it and in her.

So, as I challenge myself, I'm challenging you.  How are you going to show your wife TODAY that she is a beautiful and precious gift?  A gift that God picked out just for you.  What will you do to say that she is more rewarding than that promotion you've been chasing.  That she is more deserving of your time than that project you've been trying to finish.  It doesn't have to be complicated.  It's doesn't have to be expensive.  It can be a simple as turning off your attention on your life and turning on your attention to her.  Whatever you decide to do, make it intentional.  Make it meaningful to her and to you.  And, flowers never hurt either.

Craig Ferguson is...

a procrastinating writer, musician, carpenter, and artist.  So, I basically only do those things when I have to and/or under duress.  I'm married to an amazing woman who smiles at my dreams and challenges me constantly to be the man that God has called me to be.  I'm a father of two wonderful girls who are the perfect combination of my wife's good looks and my mischievous charm.  And, I'm blessed to have Hank, our German Shorthaired Pointer, who is my morning walking companion and ball wrangling champion extraordinaire.


Linking today with Tracy, Jennifer, Emily, and Duane.

66 comments :

  1. Craig, great to see you writing here!! I love this post. Yes, that is what women want but it goes both ways. As wives, we need to recognize what our men do and thank them for their efforts. Thank you for this reminder.

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    1. For sure, Jenifer. Especially when your husband's love language is words of affirmation!

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    2. Speaking as a husband, we certainly appreciate the praise!

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  2. Craig, love your perspective here! Appreciating our spouses is so precious and few of us do it enough.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words. Sometimes it's good to have some reminders. I know I need them!

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  3. Awesome, Craig! You are both precious! I am so blessed to have you as friends. I think I may share this with Clark. ;) Thank you for sharing your heart and your perspective. You are right, we do become complacent in our marriages, and it takes effort to get out of that.

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    1. Awww. Thanks, Kelli! We feel the same way about you all! Jen showed me the Halloween pictures. They look awesome!

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  4. Hi Craig,

    Wise words from a wise man who is learning--and as a fellow learner I so appreciate that.

    Your scenario rings so true, and I do believe my husband and I have had similar "conversations". Thank you for sharing not only from your life, but from your heart.

    Oh, and I'll be sending this link to my hubby. ;)

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    1. Thanks, Julie. This post was definitely a labor of love. As my mom once told me, God uses everything. Not a tear is wasted!

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  5. Love it Craig! Yes, we've had similiar senarios in our home. After 31 years of marriage, it's so much better, but every once in awhile, I give that "eye" and he knows. ;) And Jennifer is right, it goes both ways and I do my best. I think 31 years shows it's working.
    Thank you for writing. . .you should write a book too:)

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    1. 31 years! Yes, I would say that is a pretty good track record, Kris!

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    2. WOW! 31 years?!?! That is awesome! And, I think I've seen that "eye" before. It's typically right before or after I get in trouble.

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  6. Jen clued me in that she was doing a series on marriage and you were her guest writer today when she discovered my blog and that today my husband is also my guest writer in my series on marriage! Amazing! I think God is serious about getting His positive message out there about marriage! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Craig! It is great to see things from a husband's perspective! Blessings to both of you as you continue in the gift of your marriage that God has given you!

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    1. I think God is serious, especially since we can all get into a bad habit of bad-mouthing our spouses. May we all continue to build each other up in love!

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    2. Thank you for the encouragement and blessings, Joan. I agree that God is serious about marriage. It's time for us to follow His lead.

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  7. Love this. Such honesty and such common ground in many of our marriages. I do wish I could get over wanting my work to be noticed, but until then, you keep encouraging the guys to say thank you. :-) May the Lord release all of us of our pride in anything but Him.

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    1. I join you in praying for the release of pride!!

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    2. I have to admit that it stung my pride a bit when Jen told me that I had missed the opportunities to bless her. I'm so thankful for the gift of grace and mercy!

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  8. Craig,

    Thank you so much for writing for us this week! It's so fun to meet Jen's husband. And, you're right. Jen is amazing :) And you're also right about the whole cherishing thing. A little bit of honor goes a long way. I think Jen and I clean the same way, lol, and I also think you'd get along well with my Steven. Great to hear from you!

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    1. I love this - "a little bit of honor goes a long way." When can we all get together? Oh! Maybe at that re:write conference in AUSTIN!

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    2. Hey, Lori! Jen's level of cleaning is beyond anything I could imagine. She puts the dish scrubber in the dishwasher. Who does that? I mean we use it to clean dishes with soap, right? Shouldn't that clean it? Anyways, I'd love for us to get together!

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  9. this is a great and needed read, Craig. I find myself giving in to the wrong-headed thinking that Lori knows how appreciative I am, that it 'goes without saying'. as you so ably point out, when I do this I'm missing the point.

    thanks for your candor and the gentle nudge toward saying what needs to be said.

    - s.

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    1. It's easy for all of us to miss the point, but I love how God moves and helps us realize what IS important!

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    2. Hey, Steven. I really enjoyed your post as well. Thank you for the kind words.

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  10. Craig, I am so grateful for this wonderfully positive and truthful message here today. Kudos to you for being honest with your shortcomings (both with yourself and here, for the world to see!), and even more kudos for the way you rectified the situation with your lovely wife. And you know what? This is a message for we wives, too -- I am guilty of complacency in my marriage all too often.

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    1. You are so right -- each party can get complacent!

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    2. Thank you, Michelle. I think honesty is really important. And you're right, it kind of out there now, huh? I guess that really didn't sink in at the time. Ultimately, I tried to write what God was putting on my heart. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed it and got something out of it!

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  11. Awe, this is great, truly.This is an important read for not only my husband but for me! Blessings to you for sharing your heart.

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    1. Thank you for the blessings, Alecia. We receive them!

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  12. Wow Jen, this man of yours, I'd say is a keeper. The most charasmatic thing about this man of yours? He owns up to the lack of or not, that is a man. He knows you well, this is a beautiful thing for a girl to know. I think he is so right on about complacency it does bring a certain familiarity and keeps us from being our 'best' toward one another. I will remember this.

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    1. There is an amazing thing that transpires in a girl's heart when she feels known! I so agree!

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    2. I, for one, am really glad that Jen likes to keep me around. I'm no good on my own!

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  13. Awwww....you guys are too cute! But seriously. Thank you, Craig, for making time to share your story here at your wife's place. What a great example of showing up for her in a place where she shares her heart and soul.

    And, I love that you put yourself in time out. Shows some maturity when we are able to recognize our own shortcomings.

    May your marriage continue to be blessed as you honor and cherish one another!

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    1. I need to learn how to put myself in time out, too! Thank you for your blessings, Nancy!

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    2. Hey, Nancy! Yeah, I'm an inward processor so I typically have to disengage and think about the situation in order to formulate rational thoughts, hence, a time out. Jen on the other hand is an outward processor. This made for some very interesting discussions while we were figuring this out about each other!

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  14. smiles...i like your challenge man...and it can become easy to take for granted the one person that makes our life liveable...the one we spend the most time with and knows us better than any other....big smiles...and i will take your challenge...

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    1. Awesome! Let us know how the challenge goes!

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    2. Hey, Brian. Thanks for the comment. If you're like me, you love a good challenge. The great news is that you already know that your wife is worth fighting for. And, you've already won the prize!

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  15. I love getting to see different parts of bloggers...what a treat to meet craig...and yes...we have to make a choice everyday...will I really see...hear my spouse...we need not to let familiarity...and selfishness keep those affirming words from being given...we all want to be validated and who better than our spouse. blessings to you both~

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    1. Who better...you are so right. But so often, we end up forgetting. I am appreciative of Craig's reminder for me, too.

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    2. Thank you for the blessings! I really didn't know what I was getting into when Jen asked me to do this. I'm glad that you enjoyed the post!

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  16. Craig, this was wonderful! Thank you for sharing. Jen is a lucky woman! :)

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  17. I giggled when you put yourself in time out, Craig. Good work. :)

    And thanks for reminding all of us to never take each other for granted.

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    1. As my friends will tell you, I'm generally good for a laugh, chuckle, or giggle! Thanks for the comments, Sandra!

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  18. I've been thinking about this post off and on, all day. 14 years seems like a long time. If I'm to be honest, 5 years seems like a long time, sometimes, up in these parts. Anyway, these words make me want to be more careful to say thank you. There's much for which to thank him.

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    1. Hey, Brandee. 5 years is great! One of the things that has really helped me and Jen is a scripture my parents shared with us. "Never let the sun go down on your anger." Ephesians 4:26. Jen and I really try to work out our differences before we go to bed. There have been a few times we didn't and both of us didn't sleep well at all. There's just something about it that really works. May God continue to bless you and your family!

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  19. LOVED the time out, Craig. And loved that you were willing to put yourself out here in this space. We all get complacent - it's a too-easy trap. But thankfully, your wife didn't let you stay there and you (eventually :>) got the message. And I'd say the words written here? Well, they make up for a whole lot of complacency, seems to me. Well done. (We'll be at 47 on the 18th of December - it's been a great ride, but never an easy one, you know? It takes courage, time, attention - and time-outs, too!)

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    1. WOW! 47 years! That's amazing. I really appreciate your words of encouragement, Diana!

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  20. Thanks, Craig, for not being complacent about writing this post for Jen's blog...I admire a man, who will put himself in time out, own up to his mistakes, and challenge himself to love his wife like she deserves...Well-done...Thanks, Jen :)

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    1. Hey, Dolly. Thank you for reading the post and commenting! I heard today that November is National Writing month or something like that. Maybe, I should take the hint!

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  21. Time out. That was priceless! ;-D

    I just love what you wrote, Craig. What you have said contains a lot of what I have heard wives complain about. Of course, it is much more helpful if they discuss it with their spouses as you did as opposed to venting to friends and coworkers, thereby fanning the flames of discontent.

    I agree that being complacent about showing our love and respect to our spouses is a surefire path to difficulty down the road. What I have always found amusing is how a couple with a healthy marriage—being intentional about paying attention—is looked upon as just lucky, or with envy. I think people tend to overlook the work that goes into a good marriage. The good news is that turning the corner towards a healthier and more rewarding relationship can start with the information you present. Nicely done!

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    1. Hi, Kim. I agree that open and clear communication with your spouse is absolutely essential. They are the one person we should be able to be completely honest with. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Thank you for the kind words!

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  22. I'm so glad to read this, Craig! One key thing that your title touches on: when we wives bring up difficult feelings, many times we are not trying to NAG, but to RESOLVE. I think it's easier for men to "solve" issues with the "Let's not talk about it" approach. But for me, it never feels settled until the Mr. and I understand each other. Sorry, fellas, the only way to accomplish that is to talk.
    The upside is, once he really understands why "X" hurts my feelings, he's more likely to remember not to do/say "X" again. The other upside is, if I understand him and his good intentions, I'm more likely to be patient next time an "X" slip-up happens. As it will.
    I hope I'm making sense. I really love this.
    And you're a hero for not only putting yourself in time out, but actually TATTLING on yourself.

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    1. I am the same way -- it never feels settled for me either until I feel like we are both on the same page. You are totally making sense and I agree with you!

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    2. Janice, you are absolutely correct about how differently women and men tend to communicate! I'm sure at times Jen feels as if she is trying to mine gold out of me when she presses me to "talk out" what's going on. However, at the end of the discussion, I always feel better than I did when the conversation started. And occasionally, she does find a "nugget".

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    3. Thanks, Jen, I thought surely I was speaking for other wives besides myself.
      Craig, funny you should say that. I just wrote a scene in my novel, where my main character has been brooding and his wife asks him to let her know what's wrong. He finally does. He won't admit it out loud, but he feels better just for putting his problem into words.

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  23. Dear Procrastinating Writer aka Craig,
    Procrastinate no more. You're likability factor is sky high and your words have a way of encouraging both male and female readers. Good job, you.

    Thanks for sharing, for putting yourself in time out, for encouraging us to love better.

    PS I like you even more because the cartoon you is holding a beer. Cheers.

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    1. Yes, world, Amy almost disowned me at She Speaks because I don't like beer. :)

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    2. LOL. Hey, Amy! I know that Jen doesn't love beer but nobody's perfect! She is generally pretty good at trying different ones. There are even a few that I think she would actually drink. I have found that even the strongest wall will yield itself to persistence. Maybe there's another post in there somewhere. :) Anyway, I really appreciate your encouragement both to me and Jen!

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  24. Craig, there are so many things I want to say. I loved this post. I love your writing. I'm so glad to see more of it out there! PLEASE, keep it up! :) You know I have your back in any way I can. Bless you, friend, Jenny
    (And yes, like Jen, there were many tears as I read. I thank God for husbands like you and Justin!!!)

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    1. Let's all just pray he keeps writing, yes?

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    2. Awww, thanks, Jenny! You're right. I should write more. Not only should I write more, I should probably publish more of it out there. I really appreciate all of the love and support you guys have given us. We feel really loved by you all. Please know you and yours hold special places in our hearts.

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  25. OK. This is so sweet. Craig, thank you for sharing your post, your writing, and your love for your wife. What a gift.

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

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  26. aw this is so awesome, jen and craig. thank you for sharing your humble hearts here.

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