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I Need Family Help

Old 05-24-2002, 11:45 AM
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Krazy Bob
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Unhappy I Need Family Help

You know, I spend so much time working for my clients that there is often too little time for me. But today I am turning to you, my new friends, for thoughts on how to deal constructively with a family situation. I hope that this is the correct forum.

Both my wife and I are members of AA. I have over 5 years, she has over 9 years. She did her first 4.5 by staying at home, but found AA at the same time that I did. So, we're about equal. Regardless, we would be equal because we only have today.

Last September we were married. It was a beautiful wedding and our life together looked promising. When we married I became the only father her two girls have ever known. One is 9, the other 7. Initial challenges of authority bounced back and forth, but as the adult, I won ( think.)

I work from my home. I own and operate a successful mobile DJ business averaging $1300 for 4 hours. There is work that comes with the paycheck. I also own a growing web design business. Both businesses keep me at the computer for long stretches during the day. My work day is usually 10am until about 3am with some time off for dinner and resting. To make matters worse, my web design partner relapsed and I'm doing this alone and managing some of his affairs. I am beat.

But invariably, at 4pm every day the wife pulls up with the kids and all hell breaks loose. Fighting over homework, fighting over chores, fighting with each other, waking our 5 month old baby and getting her screaming, clothing strewn about the house, temper tantrums, non-stop whining -- Allison did this, Angela did that. The wife screams at the kids. I yell at the kids to knock it off because I am trying to work, or I'm on the phone (it rings all day and at 4pm the house line begins to ring as well.) And now I'm in the doghouse for yelling at the kids, but their mother can. My 7 year old came in with a portable radio playing very loudly and startled me. I snapped at her to turn it off or take it outside. Wrong thing to say. Now the wife is ticked off. It seems that my 7 years old was coming to ask me a "Daddy" question. I am not a mind-reader and responded to being startled.

We live in a small, 2-bedroom home. It's all that we can afford and my office is in the living room. It is a tough situation. I have tried stopping work at 4pm and going for a walk, but there is just so much to do. I have nowhere else to work; the kids can play in their room or in the yard. But all I have is my desk.

I also suffer from PTSD where I was so mentally abused at a "real job" that I no longer have the coping skills that I once had. I was "outted" by my boss and discriminated against as an alcoholic and it mushroomed from there. Each day is a struggle for me to maintain balance without getting loaded. I also no longer have booze or drugs to help me through the day, nor the desire to turn to them. My inability to properly address my stress is now being thrown in my face. My doctor has me on meds., but I think that they add to the condition (Trazadone.)

The other morning my wife left me a three page letter on the computer telling me that she and her girls think of me as a monster. This truly is an exageration and the words hurt terribly. I had asked her the night before what was wrong and she lied and said nothing. I woke to a letter. Great communication, eh?

The truth is that I own my part in the situation. I have sworn off coffee, except for an occasional cup of decaf. I am trying to quit smoking. Both are stimulants. I am trying to cut my work day down to less than 16-18 hours, but it is tough. I have well paying clients that want my work and it helps feed my family. All of the yelling and fighting with the kids HAS caused me to become irritable too much of the time. The wife expects me to simply accept this as how it is when you have kids. True to some extent, but I don't believe totally. Even before we got married I told my wife that I couldn't deal with her snapping at her kids and using sarcasm, but now I have fallen into the same parent trap.

I need to change this. But I also need to set boundaries for my wife and the kids as long as I have to work in the living room.

But where is a fair boundary? What can I do? What more can I do? What should I expect as a natural return, not a tit for tat exchange?

It is difficult for me to write these words here since many of you seem to think of me as a magician with this site. But there is a person behind the keyboard that is hurting right now and I need some Good Orderly Direction (GOD).
 
Old 05-24-2002, 12:01 PM
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Hi Bob

I am not an expert at this stuff, but I think you hit it in your very first sentance...."there is often too little time for me". I think making time for you and time for you and your family might make things a little better. I realize your business makes the money, puts food on the table, and all of that but you need to enjoy your family and spend time with them. They would probably do with less if that meant spending more time with you.

I also think communication is a key thing here to....I have to tell you though, when I get angry at my hubby I write letters too instead of talking aloud. I usually rip them up though because it was enough just to get it out. I think you and your wife need to communicate a little more but unless you spend time with her, how is she going to that?

I am sure more of the ladies (and gents) will have some sound advice for you. I hope you don't mind me giving you my thoughts on the subject

Many hugs.
Love,
Debbie
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Old 05-24-2002, 12:20 PM
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Being the organizer and co-dependent freak that I am, my thoughts come rolling out like a raging rapid. <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> Boundries sound like something needed, I am not sure of what kind of work demands you have, but is there anyway possible that from the time the kids get home, till bedtime you use that as down time for you and spending time with your wife too? Thats one thought, or setting up a schedule that EVERYONE in the household is aware of, ie: Daddy works for X time until X, but then in the evening or when hes working he needs to be left working.

I am a strong communicator, I beleive in talking and having an understanding about things. I know that is something that makes me feel good, and have peace of mind.

As a parent I have learned that sometimes no matter how crazy things are, I just have to learn to STOP whatever I am doing or worried about and just devote my time to her. It is very easy to keep going in the fast pace, it is very easy to get caught up in the routine. I think sometimes with a few re-arrangements everyone can be happy. Sitting down and talking about things can be helpful, esp if boundries about your work, and respecting the pressure you are under could be helpful too.

Maybe have dinner started when the "crew" arrives home, then have yourself, if work is needed, the extra peace of mind that your wife could maybe help with kids while you worked, then give her a breather another night. Just some thoughts.

Keep posting, your doing great with the hard work here!!
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Old 05-24-2002, 12:28 PM
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Hi Bob - welcome to our forum.

I don't have any magic answers for you, but have a few suggestions that may help.

My husband had a 24 hr/day 7 days a week business and I had an accounting practice. When I was finished at my office, I would go and help him. It was crazy and affected our health and our sanity, luckily not our relationship. He sold his business at Christmas and I sold my practice, because he is now working in Alberta and I will probably join him late summer or fall and am freelancing in the meantime. We both feel "free" now, but it was tough to let go of the businesses
because we thought we would never survive. Well we did and we're fine. I tell you this so you know I understand the hectic pace you are running at.

Suggestions:

First, cut your hours. No one can keep up that kind of schedule and survive. Decide your most productive projects and time frames, and go with that. If you had a heart attack and were forced to cut back, you could do it. So do it now and save yourself the attack.

Second, pick a time each day that is "family time" and use it to talk, play and interact as a family. Because you are.

Third, make a date with your wife. Yes, a date. Get a babysitter, make plans (they don't have to be expensive) and go out and enjoy each other's company. Go to a cheap restaurant for dinner, take a walk somewhere pretty, buy an ice-cream cone, take a drive in the country, I'm sure you can think of something. And plan to have a date every week. My husband and I are married 32 years and when he was here, we had a date every Friday night, good week or bad week, rich or poor,
and it worked wonders for our relationship.

All this requires "change" but staying the same is not an option if you want to stay healthy personally and in your relationships. Cut back the workload, and cut back the budget if need be.

Well, that's my book for the day. Hope I could be of some help.

Hugs

Ann
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Old 05-24-2002, 12:30 PM
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Hi Bob...
I don't have kids, but your story made me think of a costumer I'll call Matilda. (No, this isn't me... just someone I know of.) Theatre costumers are notoriously short tempered because they are notoriously overworked, understaffed and underbudgeted and always on a deadline. I don't know many that have not abused stimulants at one time or another... which adds to the grrrrrr factor. Matilda was a dragon of the most fiery sort... but she had a heart after all, and realized she was upsetting the people she cared about... as well as those whose help she needed. So Matilda pulled a brooch out of stock... a bird. When the bird was flying upright, one could approach Matilda and expect civility. When the bird was upside down, Matilda had determined that one more thing would send her off the deep end. No one wanted to be the one more thing, and it was nice to have the warning. It also added some humor to the situation.
Even a 7 year old should be able to understand about respecting your work space. Perhaps there could be an "I'm working intently now" symbol that alerts the kids to be quieter, or to not interrupt you. After all, they wouldn't be able to call you willy-nilly if you were in an office working for someone else. Sometimes it has to be "office time" or nobody eats. I just hope you're also able to make some "us time".

Love,
Smoke
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Old 05-24-2002, 12:35 PM
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Please don't think me cold by being brief and to the point..

Balance, quality time with the family, shorter hours, and the biggest problem I see here is the office in the living room. That must create stress not only for you, but the wife and kids also. Kind of like walking on pins and needles in the middle of a mine field. Something is going to blow.

I have an office in my home. Of course I am single. But I do have a door on it and can close it off from my cat, who like a little child, pops in and startles me. Like jumping up on my keyboard in the middle of typing a sermon, to get a little attention. She is like a kid. And wants to know I love her. So I put things down, pick her up, hug her, pet her, talk to her. And off she goes content. Like right now, she is at my feet letting me know its time to feed her

My suggestion, if at all possible, move the office. Put on an addition, something has to change. You are under a lot of pressure here my friend, especially with recent events.

Just my take.

Den
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Old 05-24-2002, 12:43 PM
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Hey Bob,
I was just thinking today how it helps others when we share out weaknesses as well as our strengths.

I too have PTSD and the situation you're in is hard for all of you to cope with. I have some excellent tapes I will copy for you, but don't tell anyone I haven't tried medication, because the worst of my PTSD was years ago. I've learned to manage most of it except the hiper arousal survivor part. I'm the only one I know that carries fish penicillin and bird biotic in my car in case of an amthrax attack.

Being in the small house with the kids and working at home will probably remain difficult. There are some things you can do. At 4pm take at least a half hour to nurture your wife and children. Listening, hugs, and letting them know how important they are to you. They need to know they are the most important part of your life.

As a man you know that providing for them is the best way of loving them. We women and children are from a different planet. We think that your work is more important to you than we are. This hurts your feelings because it feels like all that you are giving is not appreciated. We are also quickly cured, because just a little affection and listening makes everything feel better.

Structure is important. Kids love playing in the hose, movies are a lifesaver, and other things that get their attention off you and each other and on to something else. The medication takes 6 weeks before you feel the full effects.

Take care of the PTSD and the rest will be easier to deal with. I think we need a PTSD board, lol. Just kidding, don't want to add to your work. It helps to talk about it and vent. You are welcomed here to do that. I do it all the time.

I know how you feel being overwhelmed with work. I work sometimes from morning to bedtime.When the phone rings, I want to take it and throw it through the window. That's a PTSD thing too, I think. Let some of the things go. We certainly don't need anything fancy here right now. Do only what you have to do and leave everything else until later.

Make a list of the basic necessary things that you have to do. Only do those things. You are at a time that protecting yourself is of vital importance. Don't do anything that you don't have to do.

Others may have some better advice. If there is anything we can do to help lighten the load, let us know. I promise I'll try to behave.

MG

Wow, sorry for the book

<small>[ May 24, 2002, 02:47 PM: Message edited by: Morning Glory ]</small>
 
Old 05-24-2002, 12:52 PM
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We are so good at cluster posting, are you overwhelmed???
 
Old 05-24-2002, 12:58 PM
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Hey Bob:

I don't have the kids situation either unless you count a psycho dog with massive separation anxiety probelms, a cat who just lost his brother and now thinks I am the surrogate and friends who all in the middle of some major crisis..... and last year i had my own version of a child - called my addict....

Like Anns - I too had my own business running out of the house, my addict had his business as well - we worked constantly (when he was clean) and i can remember the fights we used to get into almost wanting to strangle one another at times....

Here are my thoughts....

1. yes - absolutely you are in the right place to vent and yes we all do think you are a god!!! but things happen for a reason and I for one am glad that we can be here for you....

2. ASK FOR MORE HELP WHERE YOU CAN...... on these boards - tell us what help you need.... I for one would be mroe than happy to try to take on more responsibility... Are you the only one that runs the DJ business? If youhave help - maybe you can start straining someone to come in and help you with some of the day to day tasks... remember - addicts, alocholics and alnoners are MASSIVE contorl freaks - even when we think we are not.... take a moment and look at your attitudes - do you find yourself saying - well it would take too long to teach someone, it is faster to do it myself??? if so - I am going to have to smack you with the skillet to dislodge that thinking - that is classic controling behavior....

3. Calmly rationally tell your wife that you can not fix behaviors if she is not honet with you about her feelings.... Most people are deathly afraid of approachuing the subject because all it turns into is a big verbal slug fest.... I am a HUGE fan of Dr. Phil from Oprah and he has some very valueable advice when it comes to relationships.... in EVERY REALATIONSHIP it boils down to a battle over control. it boils down to a person's self esteem... the kids probably just wnat some more of your attention - not you multi taksing..... your wife proably want ssome more of your attention - not your mutli tasking.. and i would exepct want the same from your family.....

take it from those that know - WORK WILL WAIT!!! THIS BOARD WILL WAIT!! hell - we are all just trying to figure out the pictures What are your priorities? reamining clean and your family correct? are your actions matching your desired prioritites?

Here is a question that Dr. Phil asks all the the time:

What can YOU do today to improve your relationship?

Don't say - well i want my wife or my kids to do this.... start making changes on your own to improve the situation and i will bet you a pair of bunny slippers that you will start to see improvement in your wife and kids....

does that make any sense?

Love
Ogly
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Old 05-24-2002, 04:13 PM
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Thank you all for your insightful responses. I have read each one closely and most say what I already know. But as an alkie, sometimes I DO need that skillet upside my head.

I say with the uttmost humility that I am very good at many things. But I am new to being a husband and a fulltime father. I have a 7 year old as a result of a casual encounter 8 years ago. I am in her life, by the grace of God and sobriety. I did fine as a part-timer. But fulltime has brought upon many unexpected things.

The girls will be having dinner with their Grandmother this evening. My wife, DeAnn, and I will be going out to dinner. We'll spend some time together tomorrow doing laundry and other chores, but then on Sunday we'll either drive down to San Diego, or up to Solvang. Something. It doesn't matter what. Heck, if she plays her cards right I may even remaind her of how we happened to have beautiful baby Rachael <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

<img src="http://www.soberrecovery.com/Rachael1.jpg" alt=" - " />

There is much work to be done, but not in the office. Thank you again to those that shared their E.S.H. with me.
 
Old 05-24-2002, 04:32 PM
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AAAAhhhh!!! What a sweet baby. Congratulations on the great plan and immediate action at that. Nothing wrong with your priorities.

We'll keep the skillet handy. I'd lend you my bunny slippers for the weekend but we have some walking wounded among us who may need them.

Have a great time!!! And watch out for wormholes!!

Hugs
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Old 05-24-2002, 04:32 PM
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Now there is absolutly one of God's most precious miracles. Absolutly adorable!
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Old 05-24-2002, 07:43 PM
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Old 05-25-2002, 02:22 AM
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Are those lovelys not a perfect reason to take the good advice above? I don't have any magic words of wisdom but can say I have a 15 year old son. (Recently he has tried my pain pills for whatever reason)
I have always tried hard to make time for him (daily) so he can talk about what ever is on his mind. It only takes a few minutes and you both will feel better for that time. At the age yours are, I feel it is VERY inportant to do that. Maybe the little ones will even say "da da" first <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> The ones that are older will be just as easy to give that time with and recieve the benefits from that.
The best of luck! and keep those picures updated
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Old 05-25-2002, 04:41 AM
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Bob,

I brought into my marrage a 6 year old boy...my hudband had no children and he loved my son with all his heart. But the bottom line...and this is where probably 100% of our problems stemmed is that he was MY son. I said all the right things to my H but I would end up resenting and then stepping into the middle almost everytime my H would correct my son. Even two parents of a natural child have conflicts about how to raise them but it much more touchy when one is a step. I really don't think there is anyway to change that. It is just one more thing over which we have no control. So perhaps take a step back and let her have the final say with regard to the kids...if you have not alreay done so. I am sure she will consider your feelings.

Secondly, you already know that 4pm is a zoo so maybe try to NOT work at that time and return when the kids have gone to bed. I have had resentments as well when all hell is breaking loose and my H is not available (walking??) to be there. Perhaps cooking and feeding the baby so she can handle the rest might be a thought. I bet you will find that by 7pm things have calmed down enough that you can get back to work.

I am concerned that your frustration and her obviously growing resentments are threatening both of your sobriety.

In my journey I have dicovered that the tone of those first few moments when you get back together at the end of the day pretty much determine how the rest of the evening will go.

Best of luck,
JT
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Old 05-25-2002, 05:23 AM
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bob -
I read your post last night, but you had so many wonderful responses that I did not respond. But I woke a few times during the night with you on my mind. So here are a few words from me.

First let me say I admire your honesty. I to live with a man who works a tremendous amount of hours a week to provide for his family. He has two children 7 and 12, I have none. They are here with us every other weekend, and for longer periods like 2 weeks on and off in the summer and holiday vacations. It is very difficult, my situation is different that yours as they do not live with us full time. But none the less, being a parent/step parent is difficult.
As everyone else has said, and you have said yourself, family time is what is important. Couple time is important. We are addicts, you use work and my Paul does, i on the other hand use food, but that is for a differnt post.
Follow your heart, your 2nd post shows where your heart wants to be.
God Bless you and your family. And thank you for all the wonderful work you do here for us so that we can fellowship together.
You are truly appreciated.
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Old 05-25-2002, 06:40 AM
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Dear Bob,

I had seven stepfathers, I wish just one could have been as wonderful as you.

Lock the kids in the closet and get the wife a job.

Kidding aside, there is no answer, if you can't communicate with your wife. Work space? Like Den said it has to be somewhere else. Got a garage? It isn't fair to any of you.

You have a lot of people that care about you on these boards.

Bless you and yours.

Pickle

<small>[ May 25, 2002, 08:42 AM: Message edited by: Pickle ]</small>
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Old 05-25-2002, 07:03 AM
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Life with the stepkids! Been there, done that. And I hate the word "step" All 3 of mine lived with us. They are all grown now, one still at home. You need your own space! If it would take making the living room their bedroom, and your office a bedroom, it would be worth it. Sometimes I will just go in my bedroom to get away. You need a room with a door, until you can find a bigger place. That's my advice, I tried to escape many times. I would work weekends to be out of the house. One time I was so pissed off, I actually took off on foot, and ended up at a bar, about a mile down the road. Then I got drunk and had to walk back home. (had to pee real bad too) One time I got so pissed, I screamed, "you kids want to trash this house, I'll help you" and went crazy, then left. (they were teens) Needless to say they had everything cleaned up before their dad got home. Oh, the memories...all craziness, and I was drinking the whole time. Now it is my stepdaughter's HS graduation Tues. and I will be sober and clearheaded. I hope you can find a solution better than I did, and not escapism. You deserve time to yourself and the kids need to learn to appreciate a father that stays at home and works. Prayers and hugs
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Old 05-25-2002, 02:40 PM
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The baby pictures are of the same baby -- one looking sweet and innocent (she is,) the other looking mischievious (she is!) Don't get me started posting baby pictures. LOL. I gotsa digital camera that plugs right into the computer!

Once again, my thanks to each of you that offered your love, support, and advice. I have gone back several times and re-read your posts to see what more I could get from them. I had replied that I already knew the answers, and I thought that I should qualify this or risk sounding rude.

I intuitively know the answers, but getting them from my brain and into action, well - some times actions get side-tracked. The Promises told me that one day I would intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle me, and I live the Promises.

Dee and I had a chance to talk last night and I brought it up. She side-stepped the issue. Okay. We'll wait. But then this morning we all got up and began our Saturday chores. Little by little we began to talk. Rather than beat up on me, she discussed her behavior of raising her voice and using sarcasm. Without talking about it, she realized, so it would seem, that she also plays a part in what has been happening. She began looking within and when we finally talked it was about what we could do to make the situation better.

This in no way relieves me of the responsibility that I have for my part. I own my actions. AA has taught me that I may do anything that I please, as long as I am willing to pay the price, good or bad.

I suggested to her, by way of the Bird-Lady Matillda, that perhaps I will get one of those Mo-Ped, glow-in-the-dark flags to stand next to my desk. When it's orange, it's work time. When it's down, it's Daddy time.

After getting back from a short dinner break I put some music on that the kids love (Witch Doctor oo-ee-oo-ah-ah, the Macarana, and others) and we danced and played. We even did the Party Train through the house. It was fun.

For those that suggested that at 4pm I stop everything, this is how it usually works. One of the things that I asked for when we got married was that on at least three days of the week we sit down together as a family for dinner. This actually has been almost every day. Too many families don't take the time and kids turn into little monsters running amuck. Once dinner is done, I do the dishes (usually,) and help with the baby. Sometimes I bathe her, or just play with her. The problem occurs when my work load just doesn't allow for all of this in one day. I do try, though.

We're gonna work on a few more of your suggestions as well. Our RAPS meeting is in an hour, Relationships And Parenting in Sobriety, and we usually attend as a family.

Thanks again to all of you, and God Bless.
 
Old 05-25-2002, 10:22 PM
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Top Ten Ways To Keep The Husband - Wife Lines Open

10. Develop common interests. Learn about each other’s occupations and try to put yourself mentally into his/her situation to foster mutual understanding.

9. Sharpen your sensitivity quotient. Observe your partner for signs of satisfaction, frustration, weariness, etc. and react appropriately.

8. Learn to listen. Don’t pry open a closed mind, but when he/she voluntarily talks, listen attentively and intelligently.

7. Make yourself an interesting and desirable person. Keep mentally and physically fit and fresh, so that your are magnetic to that other most-important person.

6. Avoid the “sore spots” in a conversation. Always approach “danger” areas with proper timing and lubricated “shock absorbers”; that is, be emotionally prepared.

5. Learn to accept criticism in a spirit of love and meekness. examine yourself realistically from the viewpoint of your partner.

4. Discuss problems with a willingness to settle for limited objectives, if necessary. Your overall relationship is more important than winning a temporary “victory.”

3. Blend your recreational program, so that you can relax and “let off steam” together.

2. As a wife, recognize that you need to siphon off tension. Work at being calm and cool headed. The husband should be decisive and reassuring, in love.

And the number 1 way to keep the husband-wife line open is:

Take an annual time-out for a husband wife “retreat" away from home. Evaluate the past and set goals for the future; then line up action with objectives.

Just Passing it on

Den
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