How to cheat your wife

I met my wife over 26 years ago as a result of a blind date and our 24 year anniversary of marriage was last week.

 
That simple lunchtime together led to more dates, marriage, a child and wonderful life that has had its fair share of ups and downs. Through it all, I have striven to be as good of a partner and a husband as I can. I have often failed to live up to my own standards and have tried to take in my inner lessons to be better with every year.

It is almost cliche’ for some guys to joke about having married up but I can tell you for sure that is the case for me. I often feel unworthy of this woman I get to spend my days with and want to ensure I am doing my best to live up to being the man she deserves.

This week is the start of our 25th year of marriage and a good time to reflect back on what has made our marriage a success and mistakes I have made along the way. It takes a proactive effort to live a life together that thrives through the grind of day to day living and serves as a positive example for those around you.

I do not want to cheat my wife.

As long as we are going to be together until death do us part I want this life to be a good one filled with joy, satisfaction, and success. As I have thought about this deeply over the years there are five ways I want to be sure and not cheat her. My inner expectational failures have fortunately served as important lessons. If these ways to cheat are common to me, they may be common to you as well.

Want to know how to cheat your wife out of being her best and out of having the kind of man she deserves?

Don’t support her dreams

Fellas, it may surprise some of us to learn that the world does not completely revolve around you. Our wives have dreams too.

They could be career goals to find amazing success in high levels of leadership, they may be dreams of travel to exotic locations in far off lands. She may want to write a book or start a company. You will never know unless to simply just ask the question and then listen. Support her dreams and be active to help them come true.

Don’t live as partners

The Leave It To Beever days of the man coming home with dinner on the table and then time with a paper while the Mrs. diligently works away cleaning, changing diapers, shopping for groceries and taking care of every child issue all while wearing a pretty dress and pearl is long gone.

Make absolutely sure that you are part of family inc through your assistance around the house and with everything you can do together. I have no skill when it comes to loading the dishwasher correctly but I am a master vacuumer and moper.

A key partnership here is also around finances. Money issues are one of the top causes for divorce so it is critical that you have complete transparency in your finances and that you are working together on your get out of debt and save for the future goals. Separate accounts send a message that this is mine and that is yours. No, it is all ours. Even if the “yours” is debt or issues that were there before the marriage. Be of one in everything.

Don’t continue to pursue her

You were pretty awesome back in the day. Remember when you worked to look and be your best as you perused this person? You wore sharp clothes on dates, combed your hair, worked out to look good, and most importantly put on the charm.

Then you got married and suddenly all of this ended.

Quite often while out I will see a couple having a nice dinner. One is dressed to kill with a flattering outfit, hair done just right and an overall nice look. The fella, on the other hand, appears to have just rolled out of bed, thrown on a raggedy shirt, and has put no thought at all into the self-marketing to the wonder woman sitting across the table.

It is important that we never stop pursuing each other. 

 
Remind her often how beautiful she is and tell her that you love her. It does not take a lot of effort to surprise her with some flowers you pick up on the way home, a card hidden in a drawer, or even that random text letting her know you are thinking of how great she is. Key here is to not do anything because you want something in return for the attention you are giving. You are doing this to lift her up and to make sure she knows you love her as much or more than when you started together.

If you have children, be public with this praise by sharing in front of them why you think your partner is so wonderful. Remember, you are modeling how they will treat their own partner someday in the future.

Don’t let her have her own life

Women are far more social than most men. This means they may have friends away from your circle or perhaps hobbies that have no interest at all to you. Hey, that is okay! She needs to be free to be her own person and have her own interests. Encourage the hobby, the book club, the girls night out and make sure she can do these things without any feelings of guilt coming from you.

On the inverse, be respectful with your own interests to ensure you have a balance to make sure whatever it is you do does not dominate your time taking you away from your responsibilities.

Don’t honor her when she is not around

This, my friends, is very important and something every man should strive to do at all times.

One of the best definitions of integrity is what we do when no one is watching. Our thoughts, our actions, and our behavior matter at all times and this is especially true with our relationships. It may seem harmless to vent about your wife to your co-workers. It may seem harmless to click on that website or watch that movie when she is not around. It may seem harmless to watch the beautiful lady as she strolls by.

Smalls steps can quietly lead to roads you do not want to travel. Be better and don’t sway a bit. Ask yourself this. If she were here or if she could read your mind would your actions make her proud?

And for sure, never, ever, put down your partner in front of in conversations with your child.

Final thoughts

What about you? Are you a wife cheater? What are some areas where you feel you could improve to ensure you are not cheating your way out of the marriage that God intended for you to have?

Leave a comment to share with others.

How Diet Coke almost stole my retirement dreams

I still remember the day I realized that my daily diet coke habit was stealing my retirement dreams.
At the time, Coke was running a promotion using a code from a bottle cap to get prizes. You would save your cap, enter the number on a website and points would add up for something fabulous. I kept these caps in a desk drawer and it did not take long for these to really pile up since I had a long time frequent habit of visiting the machine at work several times a day. There was the before work Coke,mid-morning Coke, lunch Coke, mid-afternoon Coke and usually something towards the end of the day.
One afternoon I looked at the pile of caps wondered how much in cost that represented. Next, I began to think about cost over time and if I continued this pattern what it would mean in the long term. The final kicker was when I plugged in my average monthly diet coke spending into a savings calculator and considered how much $5 a day applied to retirement could mean if saved for the next 20 years.
The result was mind blowing. Over the course of 20 years these drinks would cost me $59,307 in opportunity. That is real money and a real chunk of change.
I decided at that moment to dig deep into my spending habits to find savings anywhere I could and then apply that savings to my get out of debt, save for kid college and retire comfortable plan. That was close to 20 years ago and I bet I have not visited a coke machine more than a few times at work. The savings redirected over this long period of time has made a real difference in the direction of our dreams.
We all have our cap pile spending excesses and most people put little thought into how these seemingly minor everyday expenses can add up to steal our future. This can be retirement, college for the children and more.  
Here is a typical pile for the average person in a month:
  • $100 sodas or fancy coffee ($5×20) 
  • $160 lunch ($8×20) 
  • $80 Snacks ($2×20)
  • $50 Gym Membership
  • $12 Netflix
  • $10 Spotify 
  • $12 Premium cable channel upgrade

 =$424 a month
These “small” charge items if instead invested with an average return over time:
Would equal $251,463 total saved in 20 years at 8%
Would equal $622,495 total saved in 30 years at 8%
Would equal $1,423,526 total saved in 40 years at 8%
Notice that on this list I am not including things like expensive vacations, dinners out, designer clothes, new cars, weekend fun or any other items many people tend to overdo. For many, these are just the basics.
If you are in your 20’s and 30’s listen to me now and wake up! Your small choices here and there to ensure you are saving will compound and open doors that only a savings calculator and your mind can imagine. You must start now if you want to have the freedom to do what you want as you get older and not live in poverty at retirement.
My journey to the golden exit is coming quickly and I am thankful for that day so many years ago when a pile of Diet Coke caps helped trigger a dream.  
You can do it too. You just need to educate yourself, write down where you want to be financially in the future and start today making the changes today that will secure your future tomorrow.

Take action
What is one thing this month you could give up and then re-direct to saving opportunity? Even a 1% increase to your 401K or IRA will make a huge difference over a long period of time.


On twenty years of marriage

Twenty years ago last week Michelle and I started the amazing journey of marriage together. Just a few years prior to that grand day we had met on a blind date through a mutual friend. Now many years later we are at a beginning again of sorts as we are stepping into life together as empty nesters since our only child has now moved off to college. It is very appropriate in a way to have this anniversary and the transition to a new life together in the same year.
These many years have been amazing and full of adventures, joy, heartache, togetherness, challenges learning and most of all love.
I can remember clearly in the years leading prior to meeting Michelle wondering if I would ever meet someone that I would marry and spend the rest of my life with. There were times when I thought it would never happen. That simple blind date led me to a person that I had been praying and hoping for all my life. 
I relish my time with Michelle. She is the perfect spouse, mother and friend. She believes in me when I am at my end. She loves me in the good times and in the bad times. She smiles on, laughs and stays positive when others would turn the other way and give up.

I read the other day that 41% of all 1st marriages end in divorce and to me that is tragic. Marry the right person to start and then stick together as partners no matter what life will throw at you. The key is having faith in God and faith in each other. With these two things combined the result is always a win in the end. 

Time to let go

August was big for us as our only child left the house to begin a new life in college. This event had loomed for a long time and to be honest I was not really sure of what would be my reaction.
Excitement? Depression? Fear?
The possibilities were broad and fortunately the realities turned out to be mostly positive for us. His excitement was completely contagious and I could not help but smile on my way home thinking of him back in the dorm room with this great next big step into adulthood. He said he could not wait to ask friends over to see his “place.”
The reality is that moving on and growing up is a good thing and being human there is nothing wrong with parents experiencing all the stages of separation that is expected. You name an emotion and I have most likely felt it over these last several weeks as we prepared for the big day.
I have tried my best all these years to be the father to my son that I never experienced as a child. I tried to be there for him when he needed me. I tried to be a loving example as a husband so that he would have a model to follow in his own marriage. I tried to love God and show how to have a foundation of faith. I tried to spend time serving others to show life is not all about me. I tried to encourage him to be independent as a thinker and a person so that he could make choices establish his own beliefs. I tried to teach him about money by avoiding extravagances and keeping out of debt.
Most of all—I tried
Looking back I know there were many things in my list of perfect parenting where I failed. There are things I wish I had done more and things I has wish I had done less.
However
Now is not the time to look in the past or dwell on the should haves. Instead now is the time to look forward to the future and have confidence that we set a solid foundation that will serve him through his future failures and success.
I know his mother and I will miss him but the future of seeing the ongoing result of all these years as he discovers his own way is even more exciting to ponder.
He just better not forget that the door is always open for a return to the Copeland house and I am sure I will still slip him a twenty when mom is not looking.

Good luck son! 

Time to burn the boats?

Ever seen the movie Hunt for Red October? It is one on my favorite of all time.
Early in the movie Captain Ramious during a gathering of his officers rather casually informs them that he has left a letter with the Soviet high command informing them of their plan to defect to the United States and turnover their high tech submarine. The officers are enraged as they know this will bring the entire Soviet fleet down on them in an effort to destroy the ship and prevent the defection.
Next, Sean Connery in that famous accent of his tells the legend of Cortez and his arrival to the new world. As the story goes, in 1519 Cortez with 500 men and 11 ships traveled to the South America intending to conquer and capture treasure.
Cortez knew this was going to be a great challenge for his men and decided to take action in a way that would ensure complete engagement of his army. He left them with no alternative other than complete success. He ordered them to burn the boats. As Captain Ramious so eloquently frames it in the movie, this left his men “highly motivated”
Too seldom in our lives do we decide as Cortez did to throw away all fear of success and burn the boats. Instead we let our fear and our focus on past failed attempts keep us from fully living life as it should be lived.
 

As we move into a new season of change with another year nearing a close, I want to challenge you to burn the boats and never look back. Just imagine what you will accomplish. 

Is college required for you to find “it”?

You always have some students who say, ‘I don’t want to go to college; But they don’t realize whatever it is in life, they need to go to college for it.” Martin Copland (no relation to me)
This is a quote I read recently in an article about plans to encourage more students to attend college out of high school. The quote was from a high school guidance counselor.
First as a parent of a high school junior I want to make it very clear that we strongly believe the path to our son’s lifelong career success will pass through college. We are blessed that he already has decided his future career and is working now to ensure he is gaining skills that will help him in college and beyond.
I also understand and recognize that the evidence clearly shows that college graduates over a lifetime will have a higher income and experience many other benefits.
With all of this in mind, I nonetheless could not help but get angry over the quote. I just hate to think of the poor kid with a dream to work with his hands and make a good living as a mechanic, welder or in a manufacturing industry having a dream crushed by such a statement.
College is outrageously expensive and there are many kids that go just because it is the right thing to do and years later find themselves in thousands of dollars of debt. Many graduate with soft degrees that give them no real skills for the marketplace or worse yet due to not knowing what they want they leave no degree at all due to having dropped out of school.(and still thousand of dollars in debt)
Wake up folks!  There are plenty of options for the young person not seeking to go to college. The key is to provide them with support and guidance to find the right fit for who they can be.
Need some ideas?  Here is an article about forty high paying jobs that do not require a degree.
What do you think?  Can someone be a success without going right to college after high school? Is it possible to effectively encourage kids to attend college while also encouraging the non-college bound kid to find a good career? 
Rant over….
Oh and by the way, I am very thankful to live here in Oklahoma where we have extensive help for kids dreaming of College thanks to the Oklahoma Promise program. Our school district is helping to make the process even easier by providing better and free access to the ACT test. We also have one of the nation’s best career tech programs for many non-college options. 

Hello My Name Is…..

Hello my name is…..
Regret, stupid, mistake, loser, ugly, fat, defeat
For many people the labels we wear in our hearts about who or what we think we really are can be completely debilitating. Many are self-created for no real reason at all while others are the result of false assessments placed on us through the ignorance and meanness of others.
I am 46 yet in my head on bad day I can see very clearly the time as a second or third grader when in a moment of self defeat I etched “dummie” on  a brick outside the west side of our house. That moment and that word haunted me for years as not only did it continue to echo in my head but later I realized it would not come off the brick. I had created a false label. 
I think we all do this. We etch labels so deeply in our hearts that we just can’t seem to remove them. Then for some to feel better they transfer these labels to others in an effort to feel better.  I know way too many people that hate themselves and then in turn spend too much time pulling down the world around them.
I will be taller by making those around me smaller.
As Matthew West so successfully reminds us in his song we are not in many cases who we might think. Do not believe the lies. You (and I) have been placed on this world for a reason.
You can and will make a difference for your future. You can leave your past behind.
Hello
Person of influence
Successful employee
Go getter
Loving parent
Devoted spouse
Faithful servant of God

It is wonderful to meet you. 
What is your label?  

Wal-Mart sucks and so do I

Like many people I know, I avoid shopping at Wal-Mart as much as possible. I loathe the dozens of cashier stations with typically just a small percentage open. I cringe at the thought of using the terrible self-service kiosks that always seem to crash when I use them while gleefully exclaiming, “item not found in bag” when I try to pay. Oh the agony.

Then of course there are the people of Wal-Mart. It seems the store brings in a lower class of poorly dressed and equally poorly behaved people shopping in pajamas, house shoes and no bras.

Give me the high class folks of Target or a locally owned store any day.

Just other day the son and I were forced to shop in Wal-Mart together for an item that could not be found anywhere else. We bravely fought the holiday crowd while at the same time gaining great amusement feeling good about ourselves by making fun of the people in the store.

Huh?

I was no further away from the store than the parking lot when the whole thing came crashing down on my heart.

What kind of man am I to judge any person other than the one I see in the mirror every morning? I know that guy pretty well and it seems he fails a lot and has a good number of issues.  What kind of father am I as well to encourage my teen son through example to be as low as I am by making fun of people we have never met.

This turned into a teachable moment as I asked my son to forgive me for this behavior. I told him Dr. King had it right when he said we should judge people by the content of their character and not as they appear or as we might perceive based on prejudgments.   

How easy it is in life to feel taller by making those around us smaller? Aren’t we called by God instead to become the least if we want to become greatest?

In the end I am thankful for the lesson that day as it reminded me how far I have to go if I am to become the man I was born to become.


Thinking of texting and porn

Thanks to smart phones and tablets, our society is quickly moving through a technology motivated transformation with broad impacts. Most of these are positive with hyper-networking opening doors to community and innovation that would not have been possible even just a few years ago. I think most of us now take for granted the amount of information that is available at any given time right in the palm of our hand.

But with these changes have also come pitfalls as well and we should be ever on guard to ensure we embrace the positive side of technology rather than fall into a technological hole that will destroy us. Truly there is danger for it to take our lives, darken our souls, and destroy our families.

Am I being over dramatic?

Check out these facts about texting and driving. It seems more and more common to hear of accidents due to distracted drivers. Thankfully the wireless industry recognizes this problem and companies like Sprint are now offering tools to help.

Sprint Customers may now download a free app that blocks texting while driving and provides other great safety features. From the manufacturers,some devices like the new Motorola X also come with features to improve safety while driving with inherent options.

There is another danger that is less talked about but also potentially just as impactful. Porn

Are you aware that your device allows access to any website no matter what the content? It is pretty easy to set filters and view browsing history on home computers and laptops since families tend to share these resources. Phones and tablets on the other hand tend to be more individual and therefore less observed. Sure there are in browser settings that can block content but these are easily modified and a lot of people do not know they exist or how to set them.

Sprint thankfully offers a couple of easy options to ensure your device and your family’s devices are temptation protected.

Sprint Mobile Controls is a subscription based service at $4.99 a month that provides a wide range options for parents including a web-based dashboard that shows phone usage and texting usage reports. It also allows customized settings for blocking usage during set hours and with set people. Use of such a tool to me would depend a lot on your family culture and child behavior patterns as most teens I know would see this level of control as punishment or an invasion of their perceived privacy.

Consumer account holders can also set controls for free that will block; apps, downloads, texts from specific numbers, pictures and videos.

It is easy to set these controls up online by accessing your account. Once logged in go to My Preferences and you will see a wide range of options listed under limits and permissions.

The must have setting to me is the content filter. The Content Filter helps protect your Sprint devices against adult content and malware while web browsing on the Sprint network. It allows the account holder to control access to sites or content determined inappropriate in accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).”

The content filter has been around for a long time but is now being expanded from just feature phones to all devices and Sprint is sending out an awareness e-mail to let customers know about this enhancement.
The huge benefit here is that this content filter setting works no matter what settings may be selected on the phone browser. A critical difference for sure. The only drawback is that this blocking does not work when browsing off the Sprint nextwork via WiFi. As a result, it is still important to ensure web browser settings are set to strict.

I have activated the filter on all my devices and now have a comfort knowing that my entire family including myself has a certain level of temptation protection. We are all human and I am glad to add any layer of added accountability that I can find.

What about you?

Have you protected yourself and your family with the addition of controls to prevent texting and driving?

Have you protected yourself and your family from temptation by modifying the browser settings on your devices to block content?

Want to go a little deeper? Check out this recent sermon from Craig Groeshel

Catching the right attitude

“The world is what we think it is. If we can change our thoughts we can change the world” H.M. Tomlison

A funny thing about attitudes is that they are as contagious as colds. We truly tend to catch whichever one we surround ourselves with most. No one is immune.

I have often found myself in a circle of negativity fully participating in the downtrodden conversation about how terrible this or that or him or she is. Soon thereafter upon reflection, I often end up feeling a genuine sense of shame that I chose to take part and more importantly chose to enable.

There was a day during my chemotherapy that served as perhaps the best reminder. I was sitting quietly in the waiting room before the start of my treatments when the nurse came in to get the gentleman sitting next to me. This guy was in obvious pain, poor health and was well advanced in age.
The nurse asked, “How are you today?” Without missing a beat he replied, “Wonderful! My eyes opened this morning and the Lord has blessed me with another day.” His little comment turned me around for that day.

How great it would be if we could all see our lives this way? What if we could just jump out of bed every morning praising God for the new opportunity to honor Him through our actions and our thoughts? What if we could just move forward with positive passion through every challenge? How different life be as a result of a change as simple as how we look at the world.

These questions have challenged me today and forced me to look deep into my heart. I hope the same for you. I am praying today that we can and some small way be sick on attitude together. Who knows, you just might start an epidemic.