A Husband's Guide to : Christmas Shopping

Alright, I am going to be honest here:  Christmas shopping sucks.  It really does.  There are crowds, you spend a lot of money really fast, and it is stressful.  Generally speaking, I love spending time with my family and my wife does too.  Christmas and family are Great, shopping for it, is not.

If you really want to be successful you have to make sure you have the three key conversations with your wife about Christmas shopping.  These conversations can occur all together or, if like me, you cannot handle that much in one sitting, they can also occur at separate times.

Start out with a broad statement that others can connect to...  CHECK
Hone in on the overall point of the post...  CHECK
Create anticipation of the Definition Pause...  ????
--This bit of internal monologue brought to you by TheHusBlog--

Let's just get to it...

TheHusBlog Definition Pause : The Key Three Conversations You Must Have About Christmas Shopping or T.K.T.C.Y.M.H.A.C.S for short

  • The "Who" (or whom, never sure on that grammar rule) should you buy for conversation.  This conversation is about creating the list of people you intend to buy presents for.  If you want to save yourself some time start with the people you are going to actually see on Christmas day and build from there.  Sure that may seem like a no-brainer for most of you but honestly some people need all the help they can get.
  • The "How Much" should you spend conversation.  As with anything remember to break your problem down into easy to manage chunks.  There are two schools of thought on Christmas budgeting.  
    • Set a total spend.  This method starts at the top and works its(it's?  I really should have paid more attention in my Language Arts classes) way down.  Decide how much money in total you want to spend and then break that out to a per person amount.
    • Set a spend per person.  This method starts at the bottom and works its(it's?  I never should have become a blogger, my grammar is horrible and so is my spelling for that matter, I must be the only person in the world who's F7 key is worn from use[that is the quick key for spellcheck]) way up.  You decide how much to spend on all the people on your list and then total that.  Adjustments are made on a per person basis.
  • The "What" you should buy for each person conversation.  This is usually the longest conversation and will lead to the most fights.  Simply saying "I don't know" is not an answer.  What makes Christmas shopping stressful is not knowing what to buy.  It can be challenge to find a great gift within budget and leaving that up to one person in the relationship is not fair.  Take some time to really think about the people on your list and what they would want.  Share this information with your spouse so that you both on the same page.
I know what you are thinking...  "Okay great, now I know about the conversations to have, but what do I do during the shopping to make it easier?"  Well either that or...  "Is your name Brad?  You sound like you could be a Brad."  To that I say, I have another TheHusBlog Definition Pause for you!  And all the people cheered...  Maybe?

TheHusBlog Definition Pause : Little Tips/Tricks to Make Christmas Shopping Better or L.T.T.M.C.S.B for short.  You know what, I totally suck at acronyms.
  • Make a Day of It : Shopping is a painful process so rather than running a bunch of little errands, focus on doing as much as you can on one day.  This way you can have one day of your weekend dedicated to shopping, but still have another day to focus on all the stuff you didn't get done because all the damn shopping!
  • Break for Lunch : Plan your day so that you can take a break and go to a restaurant that you both enjoy for lunch.  It not only gives you a chance to refuel, but also gives you a chance to talk about all the strange and rude people you saw at the mall.
  • Buy something for yourself and her : I know, I know, Christmas is the time for giving.  But you should also give to yourselves.  Doesn't have to be anything big, but take a moment and if you see your wife eyeing something at the store buy it for her.  If you see something you would like buy it.  Remember to keep it within reason but don't be afraid to reward you and your spouse for surviving a Mall in December without divorcing.
  • Ignore everything I said above and just buy it online : Do I really have to explain this one?  Really?
Christmas shopping should be about finding that perfect gift for the people you care about.  But in reality it is this horrid process of trying to find good deals, spending a ton of money, and fighting crowds.  Has Christmas become completely commercialized?  Yes!  But that doesn't mean you can't survive and thrive the Holiday Madness.


Husband Trials : My Apple Battle

I am the "Technology Soothsayer."  After all my job is in computers.  Networking a printer: Check.  Setting up Wi-Fi: Check.  Backing up a computer: Check.  Removing DRM (Digital Rights Management, which basically means that even though you bought a song, your computer cannot burn it more than a certain number of times, which "Daddy" does not like.  And yes I do refer to myself as "Daddy" from time to time) from a song I downloaded from iTunes: Double Check.  And the list goes on...

PC type computers typically operate a certain way.  They have a normal playbook of moves that are easy for me to decrepit.  With the entry into the Market of iPhones, iPads, and iPods I have had to adapt and try to learn the mysteries of iTunes...

So a couple of years ago my wife and I both got iPhones.  I got mine first (iPhone 3) and she got hers several months later (iPhone 3G).  At the time she had a total piece of junk computer (IBM Think Pad), and I had a very much newer Gateway laptop.  Well she sync'ed her iPhone to her computer to download some songs and what have you, but a couple months after that she asked me to put some video lectures on her phone.  So I got the lectures on my computer and hooked up her iPhone.  I wasn't paying attention and it some how deleted everything on her phone when trying to sync it with my computer.  WTF!  You see Apple products work under the theory of everything must line up in order for us to work.  Example : If you don't have the same stuff on your computer as it is expecting, then it thinks your computer is taking over and it will delete everything from the old computer, very scorched earth if you ask me but oh well...

My wife never forgot about all the Ween songs she lost that day.  In any case now over a year later she got a new MacBook Air.  She naturally wanted to get her iPhone sync'ed so we sat in the kitchen with her iPhone, MacBook Air, and some breakfast.  I explained to her what I thought would happen (everything being deleted) and she said she was fine as long as her contacts stayed on the iPhone.  When we plugged in the Iphone a warning message popped up.  "Everything will be wiped from your phone, excepts for Contacts, History, Calendars if you continue."  Alright contacts will stay, totally cool with me.

First the computer backed up her iPhone, then the update was downloaded, this whole process took for-damn-ever!  Then, even though the iPhone was backed up, nothing got downloaded to the iPhone, and guess what?  The F@#ING contacts were deleted.  This sent my wife into a very bad spiral.

"What the F*&$?" she said

"I am so sorry babe, the warning said it would keep contacts." I said.

"The one thing I wanted to keep is now gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!" she said, she was angry and I could not tell if it was with me, or technology, or both.

She started scrolling through he phone and all her text messages and call history remained, but instead of the contact name it just had the phone number.

"What do we do?" she said.

"Well," cleared my throat.  "If you remember your contacts, I will write them down and I will manually enter them."  What the HELL was I thinking?!?

I grabbed a piece of paper and pen and listened while she went through her text messages, yelling out numbers and names as I scribbled them down as fast as possible.

How many could that be, you are asking, well that or so instead of TheHusBlog I can call you Daddy?  That seems a little strange...

To that I answer it can be a lot, I wrote down over 60 contacts...  And don't call me Daddy.

I entered all those contacts back into her iPhone because I am a good husband.  With that under my belt I thought I was done...  But I wasn't.

Last Christmas I got a new Ipad, which I loved.  I sync'ed it my computer.  I bet you can totally tell where this is going...  After a couple of months my wife realized that she could use the iPad while in her residency.  I used the iPad for fun and games but she could use if for school so I told her it was hers and just let go of that dream...  (I know, I am an awesome Husband).  Well she tried to sync the iPad to her new computer and it won't work.  After much internet searching/research we have both come to the conclusion that it is a faulty connection port on the iPad.

So now, tomorrow(actually today) we are both heading to an Apple Store to see if we can get this connection issue resolved, but in the end I know that everything is going to wiped and I will be to blame.  There is only one thing to do.  I am just going to buy a Mac and figure it out so that someday in the future I can avoid issues like these.


A Husband's Guide to : Surviving Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a magical time for men, especially those that live in Dallas who can enjoy not only a HUGE meal (most Americans eat an average of 4,500 calories(look, you learned something)), but Cowboy Football as well.  However you would be a fool to think that you will escape unscathed. There are a multitude of chores that need to be done so you have to manage time appropriately and make sure that those around you are not close to a blow up.

Large family gatherings make the stress worse because if you get into a fight with your significant other you will try to hold it in until you are alone, which means you and your wife will be asking to pass the gravy with clenched teeth thinking that no one is noticing...  Newsflash, everyone notices.  Or if you were raised Catholic like myself things are much more passive aggressive, like the gravy will be passed to everyone but you.  Although in defense of the Catholic upbringing, people usually just end up getting drunk and forgetting about it later any way...

But I digress.  Let's get to the core issues here :

TheHusBlog Definition Pause : Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks

  • If you are hosting Thanksgiving
    • Before the day : Make sure all the little chores you wife has been bugging you politely reminding you about get done.  Grease those hings, fix that light switch, hang the lights, or at the very least hire some contractor to come in a do it for you.
    • On the day : Get up early and just start cleaning.  Don't really care what you do, vacuum, dust, mop, take out trash.  The key here is to be proactive, if you look like you are doing something to help then your wife will view you as an ally.  Besides if you are doing something wrong she will tell you.
    • After the meal : As the meal winds down start picking up dishes and putting them in the sink/dishwasher.  This is a defensive move.  As long as it looks like things are progressing then harmony will exist.
  • If you are a guest of Thanksgiving
    • Before the day : Make sure you know what you are bringing and ask if you can help prepare anything.  If you suck at cooking odds are your best chance at helping will be to take out the trash repeatedly during the cooking process.  I don't know why but Thanksgiving side dishes create more mess in their creation then any other food item.
    • On the day : Get ready, dress appropriately, and make sure to bring the side item when you leave.  When you arrive the best action is to see what the other men are doing and do that.  If someone is trying to get around you and says excuse me to you more than twice then find a new place to be!  Staying out of the way is your only job now.
    • After the meal : Remember to thank the host and say the food was amazing and don't forget to throw out a compliment to whatever your wife brought as well.  Here is an example : "The food was amazing [Host name here], thank you so much, and honey, your [insert dish name here] was great."  Here is a bad example, "Thank you [Host name here], this is way better than the swill I get at home." 
Let's make this the least painful Thanksgiving ever!  Just kidding.  Being around family and friends enjoying a good meal, and being truly thankful is what Thanksgiving is all about.  Well that and giving indigenous people blankets infected with smallpox, but let's just focus on the first part. Do what you can to help out but get out of the way when you need to.  The same goes for life.


Husband Trials : Routine vs. Rut?

So the wife is nearing the end of her CRNA program.  Which means her residency schedule is getting very stable, her skill level is solid, and her studying has reached a manageable level.  After over 2 years of craziness things are settling down.

One of the side effects of her crazy schedule during school was we took advantage of what time we did have.  If she was off we capitalized on it and did something.  Now, with a normal schedule we are falling into either a routine or a rut.

Routine can be a nice word.  It has this feeling of productive calm.  Things are getting done all at the appropriate time.  A routine is like a stable friend you can depend on.

Rut feels like a bad word.  It has a feeling of restless boredom.  Things are getting done but the drum beat of the daily grind is enough to drive you mad.

The difference between the two is all in how you perceive them.  Sometimes even a comfortable routine can start to feel like noose around your freedom, sucking all the air out of your lungs.  And that is where I think I am starting to go.  At first it was great having the wife and I share the same routine, but now I want a little randomness thrown in the mix.

I have yet to decide how I am going change up the routine but just thinking about it makes me happy.  I think we all need to shake things up every now and then just to keep it interesting.  However this is something that I, and probably millions of other men are going to have to do over the next couple of weeks...

Take our wives to Twilight Breaking Dawn...  uuuuggggggggg!


A Husband's Guide to : Checking the Mail?

Okay, seriously, I am alone in the fact that my wife has an unbelievable need to check the mail.  I pay all my bills online, I think the last card I received in the mail was on my 16th birthday, and I really don't care for catalogs...  To me, if I check the mail once every couple of days I think I am doing well (notice I used proper grammar there and did not say 'good', yeah I am impressed with myself too).

My wife needs the mail checked everyday, in fact when the mail person is late, she even gets upset.  What makes her even more upset than the mail not being checked is when I do not go through the mail, pull out what I need to and deal with it.

So it goes without saying that my wife checks the mail.  She brings it in everyday, and stacks it in a big pile.  What I have come to realize is that this pile is my test...  If I rifle through it and pull out things I need to open and deal with I get a normal, happy wife.  If I let it sit for a couple of days then I fail the test will get a lecture on how I do not handle things.

So what is the "mail" in your relationship.  That one thing you do not care about, that your spouse REALLY cares about?  I do not care about the mail, however I care about my wife and if she needs me to check the mail then I will do it.  Not because I really care about the mail, but because I really care about her.


ps : I know I did not do a TheHusBlog Definition Pause in this one, sorry sometimes the topic does not warrant a list.

Husband Trials : Fear and Loathing of Bendy Me

It might surprise you to know that I work out.  I do not enjoy working out but I am trying to be healthy.  As I have gotten older, oh wait I prefer more mature I have found that my body does not do what I want it to do.  As such I have decided to try some yoga.

My wife loves Yoga and it has helped her feel great for over 2 years now.  So I am going to jump on that bandwagon and see where it leads...

So tomorrow at 10.00am if you are feeling like it, say a little prayer, or send positive vibes, to a large man in a hot room trying to bend in ways his body doesn't want to bend.



So first of all I not only survived Yoga, but I enjoyed it.  First of all when I got in and started setting up a fellow "big man" came in and started setting up as well.  He had laser beam focus on me, I think, because in a class full of women there was another man.  Another man who shared his size.

"Hey, first time?" he said.

"Yeah, hoping to loosen up my back a bit." I responded back in a manly tone.

"Hey man, this class is great, don't get frustrated, it takes time." he said.  But what I believe he meant to say was : "Listen you are the first dude to come to this class in a while and honestly, I really need you to stick with this so at the very least I can feel just a little bit validated on my life choices here."

"I bet I am really going to like it," I retorted.  But what I was really saying was: "Thank God there is another dude here, seriously man, you are a life saver.  I am totally coming back if only to continue my support of you, big dude."

Class was hard, but rewarding.  I had to take a couple of breaks, mainly because I am not used to working out in 95+ degree situations.  The nice thing about Yoga is when you take breaks no one is yelling at you to get back into Warrior 1 dammit!


A Husband's Guide to : Alarms

So my home alarm company called me the other day.  It turns out that my system had reported an error and I was instructed to call the company when I was at home and request a test of service.

When I got home that evening I called in and told them I had to test my service.  I asked the lady on the other end of the phone what was going on, that I would have to test my service.  She said that the alarm was no longer sending a signal to the monitoring center.  We tested two ways.  First I tripped a silent alarm for an ambulance.  No message at the monitoring center.  Next I had to set off the not-so-silent alarm for 1 minute.  From this I learned two things.
1.)  60 seconds while your house alarm is going off feels like 45 minutes.
2.)  The neighbors probably hate me, as I was testing around 8.45 at night.

After the not-so-silent alarm was run for a minute there was still no signal to the monitoring center.  I had to have a guy come out and fix it.  To any stalkers out there, my alarm is fixed now so no chance of you exploiting this for your chance at any memorabilia you would want to steal.

This whole situation got me thinking about marriage.  Are there times when an alarm is going off but the signal isn't getting to the proper authorities.  (See what I did there, I know, I'm clever).

How many times have you come home and gotten mad at your spouse for something, when really you were mad at something completely different.  Maybe you had a bad day at work and when you get home you start sounding the alarm about something small, when really you need to get with the people at work who upset you in the first place.

Sounding alarms can be tricky, sometimes you are focused on the right thing, other times you just don't know what you are mad at.  I know what you are thinking, "But TheHusBlog, how do I tell the difference?"  Well, either that or, "Jimbo, how about I call you Jimbo?"  I have a simple test that might help you determine if you are upset at the right thing:

TheHusBlog Definition Pause : Testing Your Anger
(If meet any of the below criteria, then you might be mad at the wrong thing)

  • Can you clearly explain the action/thing/situation that made you angry?
  • When you explain it out loud does it sound dumb?
  • Do you have the uncontrollable urge to listen to Tracy Chapman, The Cure, or Tori Amos (if so you are probably not mad at all just depressed) ?
  • When asked about the situation do you clam up and say "I don't want to talk about it (if so you are probably not mad at all just passive aggressive) ?
Its okay to sound the alarm if you are angry, just make sure the right people are getting the signal.  Too many times our most cherished people (our spouses) suffer the slings and arrows of our anger when really they are not the bad guys.  


Husband Trials : Man Time

I have two best guy friends, one helped me start this blog and has been mentioned before as FriendofTheHusBlog and the other decided to follow is life long dream of being lawyer and he currently lives about 8 hours away, we'll call him FutureLawyerofTheHusBlog.

As I have aged, gotten older, matured I have realized that great guy friends are hard to come by and should be cherished.  The interesting thing is the roles that each of these guys play in my life.

FutureLawyerofTheHusBlog is awesome to hang out with.  We kick back, have a couple drinks, play poker, talk shit, watch movies, all in all good things.  Usually FutureLawyerofTheHusBlog and I debate politics constantly.  I do not get to see him that often so each time we get together we usually try to cram as much in as possible.  (Okay I am re-reading this and is using the word cram while talking about guy friends send off the wrong signal?)

FriendofTheHusBlog and I work together so I get to see him daily.  We grab lunch at least once a week and often have a couple minutes a day just to catch up.  He is also married and believe it or not, many of the topics of this blog are hatched during conversations between him and I.  The challenge with FriendofTheHusBlog is that he has 4 children so while we get to see each other almost every workday we rarely get a chance to hang outside the office.

Now the interesting thing is that FriendofTheHusBlog and I both have a free weekend coming up and we are going to hang out.  What started as a conversation about what to do on our day out has blossomed into a full on day of man-pampering or manpering for short (yeah I just made that word up, jealous?)

I am not going to get into our plans but it does involve at least a straight razor shave and some sort of red meat product cooked over fire.  But thing I noticed is that making time for friends is so very important and it is something I totally lost sight of during the beginning of my marriage.

I lost many good friends not because of a fight or disagreement, but through negligence.  And while those friends are lost to the ashes of time, I have be so very fortunate enough to make new friends.

The point of this post is this : Make time for your friends because when you do, you are really making time for yourself.  (Holy shit if that isn't a Hallmark Card it will be soon...  I'll make millions, thousands, hundreds, a couple bucks)

Keep your focus on your spouse when you should, but don't get so lost in her that you miss out on all the enrichment that comes from a solid friendship (Yep, that's another Hallmark Card)


A Husband's Guide to : Making It Worse

We have all heard the cliche`s:

"It's always darkest before the dawn."

"Every cloud has a silver lining."

"Comedy = Tragedy + Time"

Ok, that last one might just be a family saying.  But the point of the first two is all about things getting worse before they get better.  In marriage, especially with conflict this can be so very true.  The bringing of two people together is bound to cause problems but I have found in some fights you have a choice : End it quickly by owning your mistakes or forgiving hers, OR making it worse.

I would like to spend some time talking about making it worse, and why sometimes, that is the best option.  Freud had a saying, "The issue is never the issue."  Or course he also said, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," this was of course after being pressed about his love of cigars and his penchant for talking about phallic issues.  But I want to talk about the first one.  The issue is not the issue.  It is a challenging concept, but one I have found that is so true.  Sometimes a fight can start about a non-issue because it is bringing to light the actual issue, and only after conversation can you dig into the root of the problem.

There are times when it is easier to concede an argument and more on, but that will just bring on more conflict later because you have not addressed the issue.  I know what you are thinking, "But, TheHusBlog, how do I know when I should make it worse?"  To answer that I am going to have to turn to the tried and true :

TheHusBlog Definition Pause : Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making It Worse
  • Do you understand what the fight is about?
  • Do you understand what your spouse is talking about?
  • Do you feel like the issue is resolved?
If you answer no to any of the above questions then it is time to roll up your sleeves and make it worse.  This is not to say that you should get all angry and start saying mean things.  But it is to say that you are not going to apologize/forgive until you understand what is really going on.

Digging to the bottom of an issue is never fun and often involves lots of talking and LISTENING.  See what I did there, did you get the hint as what the most important behavior is...

LISTEN (did it again) to your spouse and make sure that you understand what the real issue is.  It might make some fights worse or longer, but it will lead to less of them.


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