Reduce, and redirect, resentmentraising young kids is tough! We’ve had to “fire” different childcare people… but the marriage endures. Better to “fire” the babysitter, than me!
Kind, athletic spouse – create space so your spouse can be the person you’d like to build a life alongside. Never let anyone sacrifice their life for the “benefit” of the family/marriage.
Stay well back from the edge – there were times when I disliked being a father. Create space so you don’t act on negative feelings. ALL feelings are temporary! My marriage, and my family, needs me to not-act on temporary feelings. It is never OK for me to blow my family up.
Create happy memories – I’ve spent the equivalent of a very nice SUV on trips with my wife. Bora Bora, Napali Coast, Paris, London… these are some of the happiest memories of her life.
Over long time horizons, these shared experiences have continued to pay dividends. Much more than I expected.
Lesson: my spouse is likely to connect, and find meaning, in ways I don’t fully understand.
Some nuts & bolts about removing friction…
My body looks better when I eat salad => I spend $2,500 a year on prepared salads – I don’t care if I throw a bit of food out. I want it easily available, always.
Related, a luxury good is the ability to not price check the person doing the shopping. If quality & availability matter then provide an incentive for what you want to have happen.
I’m a better person when I train in the morning => At replacement value, there’s $28,000 worth of fitness equipment located where I live.
Weights and cardio… ZERO friction between me and what I need to do for health.
Many of my best friends, now, have kids => make it very easy for them to visit me, or visit them (with a kid).
Mantra: Spend money and time seeing good people
Who to vist? Simple filter…
Do they make me laugh?
Do they help me think better?
Do they set an example for the type of man I want to be?
Some do all three – recruit them!
Remove as many micro-triggers as possible => Twice a year I write a large check to my wife. From that check all the small stuff comes out of our family. My job is to make sure that check gets funded. Her job is to take the pain of those micro-payments.
Do not micromanage my spouse! Agree the master budget and trust your partner to run their slice-of-the-pie. I get one number a month from my wife, net cash out. That’s all I need.
Drop my worst environment – when I was younger, it was commuting. I paid a premium to live close to work. These days… driving. The goal for my family is to get my driving down to ZERO.
Anyhow, know your worst environment and throw some money at it to reduce your exposure. This is a luxury good with a good payoff… your family gets a better version of you.
Beware… you might be hooked on the drama of suffering through for the “benefit of the family” – I’m calling BS on that. Just like your health, you need to own the outcome. Your family needs the best version of yourself. You need it too!
Human Capital over long time horizons. Supported by:
None of them make me appear rich, all of them contribute towards True Wealth.
The “no secrets” policy can be inconvenient but it has big benefits.
#1 => it makes it difficult for creeps to enter my life.
#2 => it’s an effective technique to lower stress and anxiety – especially when combined with daily movement in nature.
This openness applies in all areas – phone, email, opinions.
Sitting in a car with a kid – we all do it.
Sitting in a car with a kid, and a culture of openness… that’s different.
So there is the culture my kids were born into – openness and a willingness to hear uncomfortable truths.
Then, before there was much to talk about… we went on short 1-on-1 trips. I started this around the time of our oldest’s 3rd birthday.
There wasn’t a master strategy. I simply wanted to give my wife some relief. Later, I wanted to offer her a chance to get to know our younger kids (our oldest has had a strong personality from the get go).
The trips worked. Not just for kids, by the way – we do Couples Retreats and, as a young man in London, train trips with the partners were GOLD.
I like to connect in my best environment. Do you know yours? Mine is mountain forests.
Some other forums that work:
Driving home in the dark, after exercise
Somewhere disconnected – we did a five-day trip without screens/phones
Looking at a campfire
Floating on water
Phone in airplane mode, turn off the music, expect nothing to happen.
The moments of connection are a tiny piece of the actual time I spend with my family.
I need to be there, and I need to be open to whatever happens.
Wanting to lead from a position of integrity is a motivator. I’ve been setting up the teen years since our oldest turned 8.
It’s helped me make positive changes with regard to my relationship with alcohol, social media, email, bedside phones and anger.
The phrase, “you will need to decide what sort of life you want to lead” is far more powerful when my kids don’t need me to explain my choices in words.
The process of positive change isn’t a whole lot of fun but coaching a winning team is deeply satisfying.
The moms who interact with our family (pediatricians, teachers, coaches and tutors) notice our kids have a different attitude towards work.
Recently, my wife was asked “How do you do it?”
She gave an excellent answer explaining it’s a mixture of leading by example, high standards and routine.
To gain useful insight for you, I took her answer and flipped it.
What’s different about my household?
How does my approach vary from what’s used by excellent parents in my community?
For 25 years, I have acted on this belief…
Only rarely will the biggest problem in my life coincide with what I need to be doing.
Problems, toxic relationships, habits of self-harm – intractable issues and people.
Let them go.
Stalkers, trolls and neurotics – I ghost without seeking to prove I am right, without seeking to justify my actions, without seeking to turn their community against them.
COVID and things I do not control – eliminate their ability to cause further harm.
This saves energy and frees my mind.
That extra energy…
That lack of distraction…
…is the difference between success and failure.
I have another quirk.
I enjoy inconveniencing myself to do what I think is right.
Now, the sensation inside of me is not enjoyment. In fact, I spend a lot of time feeling pissed off.
However, I’ve been around long enough to know there is a hidden payoff in every repeated action. Perhaps, I’m hooked on being true to myself. Frankly, I don’t know the cause. I do know it’s useful.
I believe both of the above are trainable. They’ve played a key part in my successes.
Let’s rephrase… if you’re prone to fixating on your problems then you need to let that stuff go. Letting go is what’s going to help you get past the distractions that prevent you from consistently moving your life forward.
I’ll end with an observation on 360-degree fatherhood. It’s how I choose friends, mentors and coaches.
Spend time sharing positive experiences with exemplars, while they sustain their good habits.
How do you deal with the risk that your body lasts longer than your mind?
Serve the young.
A pregnant wife is the start of an outstanding opportunity to de-risk the back end of your life. The skills required to take advantage of this offering are likely to be very different from what you’ve been using so far.
You don’t need to be a father to take advantage of these posts – young spouse, young students, other people’s kids, grandkids, neighbors… the key element is consistent service to others.
Now, in my own case, it wasn’t a desire to “get” future help.
Rather I had a strong desire to “avoid”.
Avoid another divorce.
Avoid the pain of future regret.
Still not sure? Listen quietly while grandparents talk about their life decisions.
Saturday’s entry in my Daily Stoic (link is to Amazon) was a reminder that adversity reveals, an excellent topic during these times.
This week, my kids are wrapping up an academic year’s worth of math.
Five weeks to learn, one week of review – on to the next year’s concepts.
Financial price was ~$500 per kid. The price in time was 4 classes a week (1-on-1, 30 minutes) and 4-6 homework sessions of 20-45 minutes each. The classes were led by a Middle School teacher. Her skill is how we made such rapid progress.
My role was making it happen and dealing with the occasional fallout when the kids struggled with the new concepts.
Financial investment – less than expected.
Time investment – less than expected.
Emotional Investment – more than expected.
It’s probably like that with a lot of things.
The true skill lies in pushing through the emotional hurdle of the status quo.
Our experience with Summer Math reminded me that harder is more meaningful. The kids have gotten a lot out of their struggles. In overcoming “math,” they know they have achieved something.
The challenges of these times have demanded more from all of us. Hopefully, you’ve seen the benefit of having to step up.
Difficult does not imply worse.
Our local and state governments have done an excellent job at navigating through the early stages of this crisis. I disagree with a lot of what they’ve done! Part of what they’ve done well is manage all of the disagreeing voices.
The process of translating “the choices of government” to “an outcome in society” requires social trust and cohesion.
America has trust issues and many are making them worse. However, the lesson here isn’t for our country or your local jurisdiction. The lesson is for your family and your marriage.
There’s a balance between competence and cohesion. To lead, to govern, you need to be keeping both in mind and acting in a way that builds social cohesion.
Time and time again, I have been surprised by outcome.
We are 15 weeks into a process that will take far longer than I expect.