Dear Jack, you’ve got to loosen up. Loosen up. There ought to be fun in marriage. You can’t be all that serious in marriage. Yes, marriage is serious stuff but there should be fun and play. You’re going to spend the rest of your life with this person. Make the history being created fun! That kind of relationship should accommodate a range of emotions and experiences that are joyful. Life is hard enough, times are tough enough. You’ve got to find moments of laughter and happiness with your partner. Both you and your wife ought to have your rituals of joy. It begins by not taking yourself too seriously, letting your guard down, being willing to be made fun of.
An over-serious home can affect the emotional development of the children. And you don’t want a situation in which you come in and your children scamper in different directions, afraid of daddy. That’s so old generation, and look at the results! It’s why many are not close to their dad. The dads were too serious. They could not play with their children. Every partner has peculiarities that can be the subject of light-entertainment and banter around the table. Even habits that are so serious can actually be turned to fun. There’s nothing that can’t be turned into family entertainment in an average family. Dads in particular are good subjects for family fun and entertainment. It’s those things that make family, family. It’s those things your children will fondly remember when you’re gone. It’s those things that make children emotionally balanced, that encourage them about marriage. There were parents in those days who put so much fear in their kids the children run away from them till now. That’s not saying children should not be made to respect authority and authority figures. But reverence is healthier. Fear destroys self-esteem in children. And it can provoke rebellion. What is most dangerous about it is the feeling of alienation it breeds in children, that doubt about whether daddy loves me. And when a child cannot get love at home he will eventually seeks it outside. God help you if the child seeks the love and affirmation in a gang or cult. Fear is not the same as respect. The things to laugh at? Oh, plenty! Your height, your mannerisms, your dressing, the size of your belly… These are invariably tokens of love and joy in a family, the things that foster relationship.
Communication is very important in a marriage. What fun does is, it opens up channels of communication. The child that can play with you as dad is also the child that can confide in you as father. The dad a child feels close to is invariably the first port of call in trouble. You should be worried if your child considers you so reproving she can’t come to you in trouble. You want to be close to your children. You need to be close to your children. So being accessible is not just about your wife and yourself, it’s also about the children. But it starts between you and your wife. Your wife is your primary relationship. The quality of relationship you have with your wife invariably dictates the tone in the family.
There must be real relationship between a man and his wife, not just the administration of marriage. There must be connectivity between a man and his wife, a friendship of the heart. When there’s a soft relationship between a man and his wife, communication is easier. When there’s a soft relationship between a man and his wife, consultation is easier. When there’s a soft relationship between a man and his wife, advice is easier. But if approaching you to render advice becomes trepidation, you’ll miss out on much as a man. You have free advice in your wife. And because she’s an invested party whatever advice she gives also affects her. But you can’t get that advisory service with a chauvinistic ego. Our ego cuts us from help. The man who needs help must first acknowledge a need for help. It’s humility.
Being easy also brings you and your wife closer. The value of that closeness is unimaginable. You’ve got to loosen up. You’ve got to enjoy your marriage. You’ve got to have fun. Marriage can’t be all that seriousness. Remember you’re supposed to be married to your friend. And marriage is supposed to deepen the friendship between you and your wife. The longer you live together the closer you ought to be, and the more understanding you should have of each other. Which means you should be able to read each other’s moods. Not just surface moods but inner moods. Society trains men to hide their feelings, to hide their pain and difficulties. But a marriage is not society. You ought to share your joys with your wife, as well as your difficulties and fears. She’ll always be your best prayer partner. No one is more qualified. Your life is her life, her life is your life. There’s a closeness in a marriage bond that’s incomparable to any other relationship. So loosen up, build your relationship with your wife. Become one with her, with fun! Men are normally afraid of being that exposed to a woman, and that’s understandable. But if you know the quality of the woman you have, that shouldn’t be a problem. Unless you doubt her commitment. Let your marriage be fun. Let it be happy. Embed playfulness into it. And really, what have you got to lose being happy. Especially with the woman you love. Life is short!
Your mentor, LA
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