Edmonds Military Wire: Three great questions for better relationships

Mike SchindlerBy Michael Schindler

I’m a closet romantic. Took me eight months to get a date with the woman who is now my wife and after almost 20 years together, I still love her…and more importantly, she still loves me – which she would tell you hasn’t always been easy. But let’s be honest, this “happily ever-after” thing in the personal relationship side of life is work – and there are days it is all just about “getting through tomorrow” and keeping the romance alive just one more day.  In business, there are days we all no doubt “just grin and bear it;” and then there are times we just blow it.

Case in point: Just a few days ago I made the cardinal sin of “overruling” my wife on a parenting matter…not behind closed doors, but in front of our daughters. I was exerting my “manhood” and foolishly provided our little combatants vital intel on how to divide the commanding force.

Since my wife and I are both trained and skilled in conflict resolution, we of course gave our daughters an immediate lesson on how not to do it right then and there. My 9-year-old quipped, “When you two are done, let us know.” Yep. That was a proud moment – and I, the “expert,” was the catalyst.

I could be alone on this, but after years of being in this industry, I know I’m not the only one who pushes the boundaries on “happily ever-after.” Studies and current relationship numbers indicate rather sadly that my wife and I are quickly becoming a rare breed that pushes through “those moments” as opposed to giving up and starting over. (Truth be told, neither one of us can imagine “starting over.” It took this long to accomplish where we are in our relationship).

So how is one supposed to push through the moments of multiple deployments, uncertainty, unresolved issues, parenting, (insert here whatever you are dealing with), and arrive at “happily ever-after?”

Here’s the bottom line: You got to work at it. Listen, if we valued our relationships – whether personal or professional – as much as we would value a million-dollar investment, we’d be paying attention to how to improve our relationships on a daily basis. The real question is, “What value do you place on your relationships?”

Start by asking your partner or business associates these three questions:
1. What are three things I do that you really like? When you get the answer, do them – as long as it doesn’t violate any laws.
2. What are three things I do that drive you crazy? When you get the answers, stop doing those.
3. What have I done in the past that made you feel valued? When you get the answer, do more of it.

After I apologized to my wife…and daughters…I walked into our bathroom and glanced up to see the battle-worn 3 x 5 card on the mirror with this question, “Would I want to be married to me?”

I shook my head, walked out and mumbled, “Just get me through tomorrow.”

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include  “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.”  He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

  1. Thanks Kim. I am a “work-in-progress” – a pretty amazing work is what I tell myself…and then my wife reminds me that she is responsible for the amazing part…which is quite truthful.

  2. Great advice even for those of us that are not in the military. Every day isn’t bliss and it isn’t supposed to be. Experiences like the one you describe with your wife and daughters are bound to happen and when they do we learn from them, individually and as a couple. This helps us grow together and better endure the days when we pray “just help me get through today.” Thank you for the reminder!

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