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Straight talk no chaser, p.14
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       Straight Talk, No Chaser, p.14

           Gena D. Lutz
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  Now wouldn’t it be great if you could have that same feeling? What if you came in to work today and as soon as you walked through the door, somebody came on the loudspeaker and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, Jill is here!” and everybody stood up and clapped for you? What if you went down to the grocery store and just as you walked through the automatic door, someone announced, “Hey, everybody—a round of applause for Sophia! She’s in the house!” Wouldn’t that make you dress up a little nicer for work? Take extra care with your hair? Put on a little extra lipstick? Admit it: you would feel magnificent.

  By the same token, your man would feel similarly uplifted if, every once in a while, you gave him a proverbial round of applause and recognized the value of appreciation.

  Now, I understand this goes both ways. Like women, men tend to underestimate the value of appreciation too. We’ll go from challenging ourselves to get you (calling and texting every two hours, sending flowers, taking you on romantic getaways) to getting comfortable after we got you (checking in instead of having a real phone conversation, buying flowers solely on special occasions, and vacationing only every once in a while), to acting as if our relationship is built solely on convenience (never calling, rarely giving gifts or vacationing, and expecting all the fixings that come with being in a committed relationship with a woman, including hot meals, clean homes, and well-cared-for children). And by the time we get to the “convenience” stage, we’re not giving our women any credit or expressing any appreciation for all that she does for us, our homes, and our families.

  In other words, men and women are both expert at taking each other for granted. We treat the everyday efforts we make on behalf of each other as commonplace—something as unnoticeable as our own heartbeats. But just like we praise God for waking us up each morning with the blood still pumping through our veins, we could stand to look our partners in the eyes and say, “thank you for all that you do.”

  Matter of fact, some women don’t have a problem asking for that kind of recognition from their partner. How many times have you pointed out that it would be nice if someone said thank you to you for standing over a hot stove and cooking up three-course meals every night after a hard day’s work? Or that there better be a romantic dinner planned for all the washing, drying, and folding of clothes that you did all weekend because if you hadn’t done it, everybody would be going to school and work buck naked? I’m even going to go out on a limb and say you probably even uttered a silent “better had” the last time your man invited company into the house and expressed in front of his mother, father, sisters, brothers, and the family dog that he’s eternally grateful to have married such an incredible woman. In your minds, men are supposed to show their appreciation—shower their ladies with gifts, tell them they’re lovely, and very publicly sing their praises.

  Yet no one seems to ever expect women to reciprocate that appreciation, even though we, too, provide things that are absolutely essential to our lives together—security, wealth, strength, and even the occasional diaper change, cooked meal, and folded load of laundry. Think about it: your man can go to work every morning, run the kids to soccer practice, put them to bed while you run a few errands on Wednesday evenings, run to get your prescription whenever you need it, bring home his paycheck every Friday, cut the lawn and barbecue dinner on Saturdays, and run you to church each and every Sunday, and not get a lick of gratitude. How is that possible when the teenager who packs your groceries and offers to walk them out to the car for you will get an Oscar-worthy show of appreciation—maybe even a little tip if he doesn’t break the eggs—once he puts the bags in the trunk? In other words, someone does something nice one time, and you extend gratitude. Doesn’t the man who regularly puts in work and tries to do the right thing for you and the family deserve as much? Tell him you appreciate him.

  Your son’s father may not get him ready for bed at night, but he may have taken him outside in the backyard to teach him how to line his fingers up just right on the stitches on his old football and throw it all the way past the tall oak. And the half an hour he spent playing with your son may have even freed up a half hour of quiet time for you. Your husband may not get up in the morning and get the kids on the bus, but I bet you he works hard to make sure the school tuition is paid or there is extra money for those baseball uniforms and ballet outfits. Tell the man you appreciate that. I guarantee you, not only will he be grateful for your noticing that he took the time, he’ll be more likely to do it again, just so that he can repeat how it feels to be appreciated. Say, “You know, babe, I’ve always wanted my children to go to that school—thank you for helping to make that possible.” Or, “John really wanted to play in that league. Thanks for making it possible.” I guarantee you, this will make your man stick his chest out; it validates him—assures him that he’s providing to you and your family the Three P’s that show he loves you. He’s providing that tuition, and he’s protecting your child by making it possible for your child to get the education he’ll need to exceed in the career he’ll eventually choose. Isn’t that worth a simple thank-you?

  This will not come naturally; it’s so much easier to keep your head down and your nose to the grind, getting what needs to get done, done. But if your relationship is going to survive, you’re going to have to expect and demand that your man show you appreciation, and it sure would help the situation if you showed some to him, too. In the end, you might just get a little something for yourself in return.

  My wife, Marjorie, has this down to a science. Take, for instance, the solo weekend getaway I was plotting just this past spring. I had it all laid out: I was going to check into a beautiful golf resort in Georgia sometime on Saturday afternoon, get in a golf lesson at 5:00 P.M., and spend the evening resting and enjoying a few cigars, and then wake up on Sunday, have a nice breakfast, rest up a little more, get in another round of golf at 3:00 P.M., and then head back home just as the sun was setting so I could get in some quality sleep before I dove headfirst back into my hectic work schedule. This was going to be a rare two days of uninterrupted downtime for me—no radio show, or business meetings or comedy gigs, no TV appearances or social functions, no press interviews or photo shoots. Just me, my golf clubs, and silence. Man, when I tell you how excited I was about this? You can’t even begin to imagine.

  Just as I was putting the final touches on my plans, Marjorie comes into my office, sits down in a chair across from me, and says, simply, “You know, Steve, I just love your spontaneity!”

  “Really? What makes you think I’m spontaneous?” I asked, smiling.

  “You’re not just crazy, you’re actually a lot of fun to be around, you take time to enjoy life. You like to make it seem like you’re a homebody and you never want to leave the house, but I love that you’re getting out, going golfing and fishing and doing the things that you love to do,” she said sweetly. “I love that about you and I’m glad you’re like that because it inspires the rest of us to enjoy life. That’s a great quality to have in a mate.”

  Before she could get the last of her sentence out of her mouth, I had invited her to come with me on my solo golf weekend getaway. I mean, how could I resist? Here was this beautiful woman complimenting me on something I didn’t even see in myself, and thanking me for leading by example.

  “Wow, really? You want me to come with you on your golf weekend?” Marjorie asked, shocked by the invitation.

  “Yeah!” I said excitedly before I could even think to stop myself. “And I’m going to take all the kids!”

  Now, even as I’m extending the invitation, my brain is going, “No, dummy! That’s not quality alone time! Those kids are going to be acting crazy, there’s water and jet skis and they’re going to want to rent a boat and you’re going to have to do all of that with them and you can kiss cigar smoking, sleeping in, and those leisurely rounds of golf good-bye. What’s wrong with you?”

  Next thing I know, it’s a family affair—all of us are headed to the lake on my solo golfing tr
ip, just because my girl extended a thoughtful comment that made my heart swell. She wasn’t trying to horn in on the trip; she genuinely was happy to let me get in my alone time. But it just felt right to bring her and the kids along because this woman was showing her appreciation for a characteristic I barely saw in myself.

  And though I surely would have enjoyed spending that time alone, I had an incredible time bonding with my family. We rented a cottage, caught up with one another’s lives, snuggled around the fire pit (making and eating enough s’mores to feed a small army), and laughed and played together way into the night. Marjorie got a massage while I hung with the kids, and then she spent time with them while I got in my tee time out on the golf course.

  And when my caddy pulled up to the cottage after my golf outing, Marjorie and the kids had a surprise waiting for me that I’ll never forget: right there on the sidewalk leading to the cottage was a big pastel chalk drawing designed by my family, just for me. In big, colorful bubble letters, they’d written out “Welcum Home Deddy” with the “e” drawn backward, and each of my kids wrote their names and what they want to be when they grow up. There was also a sprawling family tree with all of our names as well as the names of the grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. And next to that were two huge signs that said, simply, THANKS FOR THE TRIP! and TO DADDY, THE HARDEST WORKING MAN IN SHOW BUSINESS, with a hand drawing of a microphone and a crazy picture of me. Up on the deck, Marjorie had the grill going, and the kids were all there, waving and laughing and calling out to me.

  Grinning from ear to ear, I couldn’t find the words to express how good that made me feel. This massive display of appreciation from my family didn’t cost much or take up a huge amount of time; the chalk couldn’t have been more than a few dollars, the drawings couldn’t have taken more than twenty minutes or so. But I’ll tell you this much: their words of appreciation, sprawled out across the sidewalk for all the world to see, were worth a million dollars to me. And their smiles? Priceless. It validated for me that everything I’m doing to profess, provide, and protect my family is not only necessary, but well worth it. Things like this make me want to work that much harder for them, to make sure that they’ve got everything they need, and certainly to give them a lot of what they want, too.

  My caddy, a young guy in his late twenties, took in the scene and, as he handed me my golf bag, said, simply, “You’re a lucky man—that must feel great. I hope I have this one of these days.”

  “Yeah,” I said, shaking my head in wonderment. “Every man should have a family like this.”

  Eight Easy Ways to Show Your Appreciation—and Get a Little Something for Yourself in Return

  1. If your man barbecues a meal for you or your family, compliment his grill skills, and, the next time you buy a cut of meat from the grocery store, tell him you know your cooking it on the stove just won’t compare to what he can do fixing it up over a charcoal fire.

  WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF IT: A man who will happily grill Cheerios on an open flame if it means he’ll get another compliment on his cooking prowess.

  2. If your man cuts the lawn every week and trims up the hedges to keep the yard looking good, show your thanks by presenting him with a small rose bush or hydrangea that can be planted out front.

  WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF IT: A pretty flowering bush that’ll make the yard look great and, every time either of you pulls into the driveway, you’ll be reminded of your solidly rooted relationship. Plus, when the flowers bloom, he might just cut a few and put them in a vase for you.

  3. If your man fixes the leaky faucet or changes the showerheads in the bathroom, show him your thanks by running him a hot bath later that evening.

  WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF IT: Some quality alone time while he’s enjoying some for himself, or, even better, a steamy bath for two.

  4. If your man helps the kids into their pajamas and reads a story to them before it’s time to kiss them goodnight, tell him that watching him bond with the kids is total husband porn and turns you on.

  WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF IT: Trust me: he’ll put those kids to bed most every night and give them plenty of, um, encouragement to stay there if he thinks it’ll result in some quality alone time with you.

  5. If your man makes all the reservations and arrangements for the two of you to have a fun, relaxing time together, tell him you appreciate his initiative to plan much-needed alone time just for the two of you.

  WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF IT: You’ll spark his spontaneity and inspire him to plan more date nights for the two of you.

  6. If your man fixes your car or makes arrangements with the mechanic to make sure it runs smoothly, or even just simply takes it to the car wash or fills up the tank with gas, thank him for keeping your sole source of transportation in good running condition.

  WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF IT: A working ride and a lifelong personal mechanic/car washer/tank filler-upper.

  7. If your man washes a couple loads of laundry but leaves them for someone else (that would be you!) to fold, thank him for helping clear the hamper of the dirty clothes and invite him to help you fold them—together.

  WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF IT: Not only help finishing up, but some quality time talking and laughing with the guy you love.

  8. If your man runs to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk and some eggs and cereal when you’re running low, thank him for noticing you were out of the essentials.

  WHAT YOU’LL GET OUT OF IT: A man who will be more likely to make runs to the store because he sees the need, not because you begged.


  Dollars and Sense

  How to Handle Money Problems with Men

  It’s like my father used to say: the best thing you can do for a poor person is not be one of them. That’s because if a person in need comes to you for help—he doesn’t have the means to feed, clothe, or shelter himself—there’s nothing you can do for that guy if you’re broke too. This makes all the sense in the world to most men because we’re really clear that no matter how much we love our significant others and the families we create together, we can’t live off that love. It can’t pay the light bill. It doesn’t send in checks for the mortgage. You can’t drive it to the store or buy groceries with it. And no matter how much hugging is involved, it will not keep the people we love warm in the same way that good old-fashioned heat and electricity will. Simply put: we need money to provide the essentials for the people we love. And a man—a real man—will move heaven and earth to make sure that he has it, so that the people he loves have it.

  The ability to do this is at the very core of manhood. From the moment the obstetrician smacks our bottoms and tells our mothers, “It’s a boy,” we are expected to understand and respect the fact that one of the most awesome responsibilities we will have as men is to have a clear-eyed, laserlike focus on who we are, what we do, and how much we make, and to use that to make sure that the people we love are taken care of—that they want for nothing, even after we’ve taken our last breath. As I wrote in Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, being the chief provider in our lady’s life is also one of the key ways we show our love for her and the family we build together. It’s absolutely critical for a man to show his love in that specific way.

  Imagine, then, the problems that can arise if a man can’t get his family’s money right. Let’s say you get married and the honeymoon season is over. Now you’re in the thick of living your lives together and, suddenly, the grind of paying bills is getting complicated—you’ve got a couple of credit cards that are past due, the money you had set aside for rent had to be used to fix the car, and you’re a little short on the cash you need for the gas bill. Now toss some kids in there and watch your bank accounts get sucked dry. This scenario was complicated enough while the two of you were single and dealing with it on your own, but the frustration, embarrassment, and stress only multiplies when you have to go through those financial complications in front of and with someone else, and someone other than you is seve
rely affected. Not to devalue how women feel in these situations, but I can tell you that this can wreak havoc on a man’s ego.

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