Column: How well do you know your husband's 'Plimsoll line?'
Our guest columnist, Pam Farrel, shares great advice for women who want to help their husbands succeed in life. I'm happy to tell you that Pam will be in our community Sept. 26. She is the featured speaker for the Four Corners Woman2Woman conference, which starts at 9 a.m. at the Crossroads Community Church. You can get more information about the conference by calling 505-325-2600 or at Pam's website, love-wise.com/braveandbeautiful. Pam will also be my guest on "TWOgether as ONE" at 6 p.m. Monday on KLJH 107.1FM.
Pam and husband Bill are relationship experts, international speakers and authors of more than 38 books, including "Red-Hot Monogamy," "Secret Language of Successful Couples" and "Red-Hot Romantic Tips for Women." You can find lots of great marriage-enrichment resources at their website, love-wise.com.
Lowing his stress
In the late 1800s, Samuel Plimsoll discovered that nearly 1,000 sailors a year were being drowned on ships around British shores because ships were being overloaded. He headed up a campaign to require that vessels bear a load line indicating when they were overloaded. The Plimsoll line is a mark located on a ship's hull that indicates the maximum depth to which the vessel may be safely immersed when loaded with cargo.
Your husband has a "Plimsoll line." Load him up too much — his life or health or your relationship will sink. He needs you to watch the Plimsoll line. He needs you to be aware of the load on his back. And he needs you to care and fight for him, his life and his relationship with you and the family. You are the dock guard checking his "waterline" to keep him free from overwork, over commitment and over-the-top stressors. Only a woman of virtue can be trusted with a task so vital.
In Hebrew, the word "excellence" can be translated virtue, valor and valiant and is the same word used of soldiers. You are a warrior wife — a defender of your husband, your marriage and your family.
How well do you know your husband's stress? Is he carrying stress about his work (or lack of it), the kids, your finances, his health, your health, the headlines and plight of evil in our society, those under his leadership, the community, the extended family or a mission laid on his heart? We should look for creative ways to help our mate process his stress as it nears Plimsoll. To keep on caring, often we need a better understanding of how our husband might process the stress of life.
In "Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti," we share that biology explains that men and women process stress differently. We women talk our way through stress. When I am stressed, my sister knows it, my mom knows it, my best friend knows it — the clerk at the grocery store will know it! Men, on the other hand, when they are stressed, go to their favorite easy box to rest and recharge. But God helped out us girls so we can recognize these recharger boxes: most are actually shaped like boxes — the TV, the garage, the football field, baseball diamond, basketball court, tennis court, pool table, soccer goal, the computer, the refrigerator and the bed! In fact the bed box — that sex box — is a favorite box for men to go to when they are all stressed out. It is kind of like the free square in the middle of a bingo card — they can get there from every square on their waffle!
Since we started teaching this, we developed a new code word for wanting sex, "Want to play some bingo?" Just seeing a bingo card in his brief case or on his desk lowers Bill's stress! So where does your man like to go when he is stressed: fishing, hunting, for a run, TV or a movie, sports, a hobby, the garage, surfing, boating? Some choices are healthier for managing stress than others. If you offer to schedule some R and R with some physical activity he enjoys, it might keep him away from the burger and fries — or other unhealthy habit — that could put him in an early grave.
Ask him about his favorite pursuits and then schedule a visit to his "favorite boxes." In "Red-Hot Romance Tips for Wives," there are 26 traits to help you become a more loving wife, including this "virtuous warrior for my man" attitude. We also arm you with ideas on ways to offer help when your man's load is approaching the dangerous Plimsoll level:
• Be a high-tech hostess: Visit a tech store that offers free use of a massage reclining chair or give him a health club membership or a new gadget. Something as simple as a new tool can lower stress. For example, a set of headphones that block out white noise or enhance his favorite music can make even a spare five minutes renewing. For my husband, a new set of running shoes with headphones were perfect to create a renewing running routine in his daily life.
• Be a travel agent: Know where to whisk your guy away to for a midweek getaway that will relax, renew, revive him: Is it a cabin for some hunting, a beach resort for some surfing or sailing or a lake for boating and bonfires? Several of my friends have created a "man cave" in their home for a getaway without going away.
• Be the spa owner: Run a hot candle lit bath, give him a foot or body massage or offer a facial designed for a male. Try a mud mask. Boys and mud have been a winning combo for ages! Join him in the Jacuzzi but let him take the lead. Does he want silence? A listening ear? Tune into his way of unwinding, be aware of how your mate is wired and seek to personalize the TLC.
• Be a comedian: Send him humorous cards, emails, video clips of clean comedians or funny things kids say or do. These quick quips can add a bit of fun in the middle of a very responsible day. Personalize your humor too, Kathi Lipp, author of "The Husband Project," shares an example: "When Roger and I were first married, we spent a small fortune at our local bath and body shop. As our collection of oils and lotions grew, we realized that many of the names — mango oil, almond paste and lemon rub — sounded a lot like our favorite salad ingredients. So when we go on vacation, we make sure to pack "the salad kit" our not-so-undercover code name for the massage kit."
By lowering his stress, you will find your stress level comes down, too! Join the Red-Hot Wife 26-Day Challenge to strengthen your marriage: love-wise.com/challenge.
Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners area. He can be reached at 505-327-7870.