Basics of Basics
By Brian Martin
Most Bolters have experienced the pain of being "lovestruck" (loves truck, get it ) once they've gotten grease and oil in their blood. There is no cure. All it takes is time, attention and money (in large doses). And don't forget the occasional "mood swings." But even if you've sauntered off in a royal huff, that ol' gal still calls out to you and you just can't keep your hands off her - dirty as they are. And some Bolters wonder why their spouses just can't figure any of this out. Well, who really can answer that? And are the spouses really the ones who need to do the figuring?
Here's Brian with some sage advice that may help keep the traffic lane between the garage and the house more enjoyable. ~~ Editor
More important than the body repair work I do, I wrote this "Basics of Basics for Marriage, Women and Love" after reading a post in the Forum from a guy complaining that his wife didn't give him any of his own time to work on his vehicle. It may sound a little sexist to some but I assure you, I don't mean that in any way. If you are putting your loved one on a pedestal and worshipping the ground he or she walks on, it is not sexist or demeaning. It would become that way if you did it with selfish goals in mind. And besides, these "basics" can go both ways. Women can do the same for men. There are no rules that say otherwise -- but men usually need a little more help than women.
The "needy" spouse
I have been married twice. My first was one of those "needy" types. She would nag till the cows came home for my time. My "forever" wife (I never use the term "second" as that would mean there is going to be a third!!) is ALWAYS supportive of everything I choose to do. The other day I came home from work and said I am taking our five-year old to a baseball game (Giants vs A's inter-league). She would love to go, but we both also believe in Father-son and / or -daughter time. She didn't even say "I want to go," "I wish I could go" or pout. Nothing. Just a smile and a kiss and "Have a good time."
The funny thing is, because she is like that, I want to be with her. I have many projects (three cars taken apart) but hardly ever work on them because I would rather be with her and the kids.
Nothing is a bigger turn off than someone telling you to be with them. I am not sure if our wives start out like this, or we men, being who we are, make them this way. I feel it is a little of both. The most understanding wife is not going to "put up" with it day after day forever. While even the most needy wife will "cave" if you give her what she needs.
If you have a needy spouse, my suggestion is DO IT BEFORE SHE TELLS YOU! Spend good times with her and then make "arrangements" to work on your projects. Just give her all you can, and mention (very cautiously, so it doesn't sound like that is why you are spending time with her) during this quality time, how you "will" be working on the project the next day. Don't wait till she is nagging you to spend time with her. You will both hate it. That kind of time together is worse than none at all. She doesn't understand that. All she knows is you are not giving her any attention. She will nag you to give her some attention while not understanding that time is "tainted."
So, do it first. And I mean quality time. Make her feel like she wants to see you out there working on the car because it makes you happy. She does want to make you happy, I am sure of that. So give her so much that she wants to give you what you need.
All you need is love (or at least a little affection...)
Don't fake it! And for goodness sake, don't make it like she should be glad you are doing it! If you are not the kind of guy to give her the "I love you like when we were courting" kind of attention, start with baby steps. Give her a little touch as you pass by her. Kiss her on the neck, or cheek, as she is doing a chore like making dinner or after she has had a hard day at work. Ask her if she would like something to drink or eat a snack as she is resting. Better yet, don't ask, just bring it to her. Maybe even leave a note saying simply "I love you" in her car or on the bathroom mirror so she finds it when you are not there. Or if you use her car, fill the tank. Then forget you did it. Many women will come to you in tears of joy if you do such a thing (some guys are so self absorbed, the wouldn't even think to do these things). But some women may not. If she says nothing, don't bring it up. Just continue doing it. Remember, baby steps. Nothing will freak her out more than you treating her like she has elephant man's disease for years and now you want to kiss her neck while she is bent over cleaning the toilet bowl!
Hug her and be sweet on her in public. You don't have to get carried away -- just a little hand holding or rub on the arm or shoulder. I even give my wife full on hugs in the grocery store when she says something cute or funny. Make sure she knows that she is the most important thing in your life and that you are not afraid to let everyone else see that.
Show some interest in her interests! You will be amazed at how you can enjoy some "girl thing" because you want to as opposed to when you are nagged to. You will also be amazed how interesting some of her interests can be to you, if you TRULY care about them.
Love her kids! They are yours, too. And even if they are not your blood, they are your kids if you married their Mommy. Get down on the floor and love them. Give them attention too. When you are running to the parts store or hardware store (or of course, grocery shopping), ask if they want to go. My little boy said something very profound one time. He had just turned four so he was just a little guy. I asked him if he wanted to go to the hardware store with me. As he was putting on his jacket he said "Daddy, do you know why I want to go with you? Because you want me to." I almost fainted! This is the feeling that you give them and your wife when you WANT to do it. I like to give my kids (and my wife) little squeezes when I am driving in the car. Just reach your arm behind the seat and give their leg or foot a little (gentle) squeeze. Do this with the wife too -- a little rub or squeeze as you are going down the road.
Choose the hill you want to die on
Look for reasons to love her and concentrate on them, rather than dwelling on any flaws you think your spouse has. My wife is not the best house keeper in the world (she is a stay-at-home mom) and instead of dwelling on it and allowing it to stress me, I make light of it. When we first were together, I told myself that these things didn't matter. I didn't need a maid -- I needed a partner. I never asked her to do a single thing. In fact, I even cooked for both of us for a long time. I never asked -- she just started doing it because she wanted to. I truly feel it was because I treated her this way. It helped "create" the relationship that we have. Not that I made her the wonderful woman she is but I may have helped her want to be that wonderful woman for me. I also happen to know that she was doing the same thing. So of course, it worked like a charm. I have also made light of my own flaws. We all have them. I make sure to joke or at least mention them. This breaks down any feelings that she may feel you think she needs to be something she is not.
"Choose the hill you want to die on." When she does something that annoys you or makes a mistake, think about this. "What are the chances this EXACT thing is going to happen again in the future?" You will find that if you ask yourself this every time you find something to complain about, the answer is it will NEVER happen again. My point is, why in the heck would you want to make an issue of it? If you complain about it, "teaching her a lesson" so you don't have to "live with it" again, you only demean her. You only break down what you have between her and you. But the fact is that it most likely will NEVER happen again tells me that it is NOT worth even mentioning, not a single word.
I didn't do much of this during my first marriage. Would it have helped? I don't think so. But it sure wouldn't have hurt! If you don't feel like it because you are tired of her being needy -- remember you did love her at some point. You even loved her being needy! That is one of the things that brought you to her -- she needed you. You loved that feeling of her wanting to be with you, her waiting on every breath you took. Now, you want some space and you are troubled by this. You need to go back to the feeling you had then. You can still love her for that. Hating her for it is surely not going to help. If you take little baby steps you can work your way back up to that point where you want to "love her like when you were courting" level. If you take the baby steps, each with real meaning, you can get back to that feeling in your heart where you were when the world revolved around her.
I can not emphasize enough, these are not tricks to manipulate. It is not a game you are playing to get your way. You have to mean it. You have to want to love her. It will enrich the whole families lives.
In a nutshell, your main objective is to try to be the opposite of the stereotypical selfish husband. Change the kids poopy diaper without being asked. Do some housework if you think she's not so great at it (or learn to live with it). Do the dishes. Ask her if she would like to wait while you get the car so she doesn't have to walk all the way across the parking lot. Call her from work and ask if she would like to go out to dinner. Carry things for her (even her PURSE if she needs some help), etc. Make her feel like other women would kill to have you. Make her want to tell her friends how wonderful you are. Like I always tell my friends how wonderful my wife is. Tell her how you had a great time being with her as you go to bed after an outing.
Start taking these baby steps. Some guys are so distant, this will shock their wives. You will see a little smile on her face. Then you will start getting the same thing in return. It will build up till your house is full of love and everyone will want, with all their heart, to see the other do things that make them happy. It is a wonderful place to be.
Give her the time she needs, it will come back in huge dividends
Bolter # 597
Occupation: Auto body and painter
Interests: Anything that moves human beings
v. May 2006
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