7 things to do when your kids disappoint you

My Great-Grandfather raised nine kids. Reflecting back on his years of parenting, he said, “When you kids are little, they step on your toes. When they get big, they step on your heart.”

If you’re a parent, there will be times when your kids let you down, hurt your feelings or even break your heart. There were certainly plenty of times we let our parents down along the way too! How we deal with those disappointments is one of the most critical decisions and defining moments of parenthood. Our longterm relationships with our kids will be directly shaped by how we react in our moments of disappointment over our kids’ choices.

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4 basic needs of every man

women's restroom no men's

One of the most embarrassing moments of my life happened recently when I was at a prenatal doctor’s appointment at the OBGYN with my wife, Ashley. We had been waiting for the doctor who was running late due to an emergency C-Section he was performing. I really had to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t find a Men’s restroom anywhere in the place (since their patients were all women, I guess).

We’d just had an ultrasound the previous visit, and I remembered that there was a restroom connected to the ultrasound room. My bladder couldn’t take any more waiting, so I sprinted into the empty ultrasound room and closed the bathroom door. As I started to do my business, I heard some people entering into the ultrasound room and I desperately tried to finish as quickly as I could, but I was trapped.

By the time I emerged from the bathroom with a sheepish smile, a pregnant woman was on the table with an exposed belly and a horrified ultrasound tech was looking at me like I was a deviant Peeping Tom. I politely said, “Hello” (I mean, really, what else could you do?) and exited as fast as I could. It was pretty humiliating for everyone involved, and I felt like a jerk. I made sure I used the restroom before we got to the doctor’s office for all of our remaining visits!

I’ve reflected back on that embarrassing moment, and thought it peculiar that in a place where husbands and dads need to be (being active participants in the prenatal and childbirth processes), there wasn’t consideration given to one of a man’s most basic needs (a place to pee).

For me, this was just a funny, embarrassing story to go along with countless other embarrassing stories. No real harm. Where harm can happen is when a man feels unwelcome in a place of significance like his home, his church, his community or his workplace, because one of his basic needs was neglected.

I never like to generalize, because needs are very individualized and not always gender-specific, but after studying common traits of people from all over the world, I’m convinced this list is accurate for the vast majority of men. Understanding these basic needs will help you better understand yourself (if you’re a man) or help you better understand the men in your life.

For a more comprehensive description of the male thought process, check out my popular post on “9 things your husband is always thinking about” by clicking here.

In no particular order, most men need…

1. To feel respected.

Respect is a form of currency to men. It’s a commodity we treasure and one we desperately need for us to be at our best. Whether in our relationships or our workplaces, our perceived level of respect will usually dictate our levels of happiness and contentment.

2. To feel a sense of ownership.

Every man wants to feel that he’s staking a claim on his own future and that his work isn’t just furthering someone else’s agenda. Men derive a deep sense of pride and purpose from those areas where they feel a sense of ownership. He want to know he’s creating a legacy and he has the power to shape that legacy.

3. To feel useful and/or productive.

A lazy man is usually a very unhappy and disillusioned man. Men are hardwired with a need to be productive and to see the fruit of their labors in a measurable and tangible way. A man needs to know that his presence is serving a productive function.

4. A place to use the bathroom.

I mean, seriously, when a guy’s gotta go, he’s got to go!

For daily tools to help you build a healthier and happier live, you can connect with me on Facebook by clicking here and also connect with me on twitter.

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The most common mistake in marriage

My amazing wife, Ashley and I just celebrated our fourteenth wedding anniversary! The time has flown by, and I can honestly say I’ve grown in love with her more and more with each passing year. I’m one blessed dude!

Anniversaries cause me to reflect back and learn from my experiences. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the mistakes I’ve made over the years so I can (hopefully) not repeat those same mistakes in the future. As I look at my own track record and compare it to the experiences of the thousands of other couples we work with online and in person, I’m convinced that the most common mistake in marriage comes down to this…

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10 lessons from 10 years of marriage

This is a guest post from my friend Matt Brown. He is an evangelist, author of the newly released book Awakening and founder of Think Eternity. Matt is a brilliant guy and I LOVE his insights about faith, love and marriage. I really appreciate him taking the time to share them with us. You can learn more about Matt and his ministry at www.thinke.org.

Evangelist Matt Brown

Fourteen years ago everything changed for me when I accompanied a friend to a local church small group, and met Michelle for the first time. I would say it was love at first sight, not because I wished for that kind of thing, but because it truly felt like what I experienced.

Michelle and I enjoyed a year of close friendship, not wanting to rush things, and then several years of dating each other through Bible College…. and this month we celebrated 10 years of marriage! We are also just recently celebrating our first child over the past year as well.

I know people are all over the board in their experience of marriage. Marriage is under scrutiny in our culture, because so many people have felt it is not plausible or possible to stay-in-love.

Michelle and my experience has been different – marriage is incredible. Michelle is still the love of my life. 10 years later, and we would do it all over again a thousand times if we could.

Here are 10 of the best things we’ve learned from 10 years of marriage together:

1. Know them through all seasons before marrying

Even though I felt it was love at first sight, Michelle and I wanted to build our relationship off friendship first, not dating. Too many times people rush into their relationships, and even rush into marriage without really knowing the other person enough first. Passion is not enough to sustain a lasting relationship – friendship, compatibility and commitment are super important. As my wife’s grandma says, “know someone through all seasons first.” The Bible tells us to guard our heart above all things, for it affects our whole life.

2. Look for a spiritual match before marrying

The Bible tells us to not be unequally connected. Just because someone talks spiritual, doesn’t mean they are. We had friends who rushed into dating and marriage – they were passionate and talked really spiritual, but when it came down to it, there were not deep roots in the guy’s spiritual life, and their marriage eventually fell apart.

Anyone can talk spiritual, but do they walk with integrity, and have consistency? You want someone who is growing deep roots of faith and wisdom, who is a student of God’s Word, and who wants to give their whole life to God (and to you), not just a brief, passionate season of their life.

3. Happy wife, happy life

Men, be the man. More often women wants to invest in the marriage, and to see it flourish, but the men fail at investing in and changing to make the marriage better. I truly believe if men would take responsibility, the vast majority of all marriages would flourish.


Be a student of God’s Word

Strive for purity

Regularly pray for your family

Faithfully lead your family on the right path

Set the example, and encourage your family to be faithful participants of a local church

Be the first to apologize, forgive and admit you were wrong

Make your highest goal to be patient, kind, gentle and loving (fruit of the Spirit)

Treat your wife and kids like absolute treasures

4. Always help around the house

Both of you should look for ways you can help around the house. Michelle and I naturally acclimated towards certain household chores. I enjoy some chores, and she enjoys others. I’m not sure if every couple splits chores naturally, but I it is important to divide them up. It shouldn’t be one spouse’s responsibility, even if they are not the primary breadwinner – both of you should help.

The Bible tells husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the Church. How did Jesus love the Church? By serving and giving everything for her.

One of my greatest examples was watching my father-in-law who was a respected businessman and church leader clean up the dishes after meals. My mother-in-law cooked, and so he wanted to do his part to clean. This spoke volumes to me, and I’ve since discovered joy is found in serving, rather than always being served.

5. Whisper sweet nothings to each other every day

Too many times people are cordial and friendly with people they hardly know, and harsh with those closest to them. Marriage (or a college roommate) brings this out of us more than almost anything. Marriage and kids are a training ground to learn to be less selfish.

Look for ways to compliment, thank and praise each other everyday. This could be one of the greatest habits you could ever develop. Life is too short. When we regularly tell our spouse how much we love them, we will live a life of no regrets.

6. Always take time to talk

Marriage is a beautiful partnership of two broken people. Because we are broken, imperfect people, there will be challenges, fights, and tough times.

It’s so important to care enough to invest the time to talk through issues as they arrive. Women naturally do this better than men. Guys need to realize how important it is to spend time talking with their wife. Don’t act like it’s a burden to spend time communicating. This emotional connection is vital for a healthy and happy marriage.

Fight fair. When frustrations do arise, be careful with your words, and work to bring healthy resolution and peace to your home everyday.

7. Pursue your purpose together

Stand with each other and help each other towards careers, callings, dreams and goals. This makes for a beautiful, sweet partnership. Sacrifice for each other, guide each other in wisdom, and believe in each other’s dreams.

8. The grass is greener where you water it

“The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence. The grass is greener where you water it.” Pray for your marriage. Invest in your marriage. Wake up everyday excited to love that person next to you in ways they need. Never put another person or project before the most important person God has given you. Include your spouse on important financial decisions, life decisions, and in processing all of each other’s daily thoughts, concerns and experiences.

9. Honor each other’s families

The Bible tells us to honor our parents, so our lives won’t be cut short. This goes for parents-in-law too. It’s so important to respect and honor and enjoy each other’s families. Make spending time with them a priority. Speak well of them when they are not around. Pray for them. Love them. You do not just marry your spouse, you get a whole crew of family that comes with them – treat these people well.

10. When you love Jesus with all your heart, you can love your spouse with all your heart

God has given us everything in His Son Jesus dying on the cross for us. When we believe in, and surrender our lives to Jesus, it changes everything. Trusting our lives and our marriage to Jesus is the most important decision anyone can ever make.

When we build our lives and marriage on the gospel, there is a joy and peace that permeates our relationship. Love and serve Jesus together. Trust Jesus together, to do what you cannot do, and there will be an impenetrable strength in your marriage.

Matt Brown is an evangelist, author of the newly released book Awakening and founder of Think Eternity.

If this post encouraged you, please share it using the links below so we can encourage others!

The “secret ingredient” to a rock-solid marriage

Today, my wife Ashley and I were talking with a great friend of ours and she was sharing some wonderful news about how her family is growing and doors of opportunity seem to by flying open for her and her husband. She pointed out that it hadn’t always been this way. In fact, several years ago, she had been ready to call it quits in her marriage. She recalled the day she announced to her girlfriends at work that she was leaving him, and she was encouraged by most of her “friends” with comments like…

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The best marriage resource we’ve ever created

My wife Ashley and I are SO excited to announce the launch of our new online, interactive course for married couples. We’ve been working on this project for more than a year, and the end result has been well worth the time invested. We believe this new resource has the potential to enrich thousands of marriages. It has already enriched our own marriage and it could help your marriage too.

The “iVow” course was built in partnership with The Family Dynamics Institute. FDI is a pioneer and a trusted leader in the field of Marriage Ministry. It’s been an honor to work with their team. This is their first online course, but their live, classroom-style courses like “Dynamic Marriage” and “United” are some of the best you’ll find anywhere. The On-Demand delivery of the content was created to bring convenience to your busy schedule.

The iVow course is based on my book “iVow: Secrets to a Stronger Marriage” and it includes an updated version of the book, video content where Ashley and I teach through the specific parts of the content, plus interactive activities to help you and your husband or wife connect with each other on a variety of important topics. The interactive activities were masterfully designed by the team at FDI to help you and your spouse expand the depth of your communication, understanding and intimacy with each other.

In addition to everything else, the course is FUN! Seriously. Ashley and I laughed so much though the process of creating it and we believe you and your spouse will laugh a lot too.

(A similar course designed specifically for engaged couples is in the works and coming soon!)

I believe the time you invest by completing this course together could pay off huge dividends in the health and happiness of your marriage for many years to come.

For more information on the course or to register to take it, please visit the course website at www.i-vow.co or click on the iVow logo below.

iVow course dave and ashley willis family dynamics

4 ways to make a parent’s life easier

Parenting is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Seriously. There’s nothing that’s a close second place! It’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I’m always looking for ways to make this gloriously difficult and beautiful task a bit more manageable for myself, my wife and all of us parents worldwide.

I just read an inspiring story from Weird World Education. It reminded me of something every parent needs, and yet, too few of us seem to be willing to share with each other. As I dad and as a guy who has taught college classes, I LOVED this! Here’s what happened…


A mom was taking a Master’s level class at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her childcare fell through, but instead of skipping class, she decided to take the baby along. When the child started crying, she did what nearly all of us with small children have done at one time or another. She hurriedly started making her way towards the exit embarrassed that she had caused a commotion.

Her professor, Sydney Engelberg, is a father of four and a grandfather of five. Without missing a beat in his lecture, he gently grabbed the baby from her arms and began rocking him as he taught. He silently motioned for her to sit back down. He has always believed that children are important, and so is education, so no one should have to choose one at the expense of the other.

He did what all of us should be willing to do more often…He helped!

Every parent needs help now and then. Yes, you as the parent are ultimately responsible for raising the child, but we can all use some backup! Let’s be willing to jump in and lend a hand every now and then. Whether you’re a parent or not, here are some practical ways we should all be willing to lend a hand to make each others’ lives a little more manageable:

4 ways to make a parent’s life easier (in no particular order):

1. Don’t judge them.

Instead of rolling your eyes or making a quick assessment of a parent’s character or competence when their kids get unruly, have some compassion. You never know their whole story.

2. Encourage them.

The world has plenty of critics already. Look for ways to give genuine encouragement. It might be as simple as sending a quick text message with some words of affirmation. Encouragement is a much more powerful force than you might think, and you might just make their day.

3. Pray for them.

I believe in the power of prayer, so if you’re a person of faith, please pray for me! God’s uses prayer to change situations and also to change our own hearts and perspectives about situations. Pray for parents and their kids.

4. Help them!

When it’s within your power to offer some practical help whether it’s babysitting, picking up a child from practice, running an errand, organizing a playdate, or rocking a baby during a college lecture, be willing to lend a hand. Imagine how much sweeter parenthood could be if we all helped each other along the way.

For daily encouragement, you can connect with me on Facebook by clicking here.

If this post encouraged you, please share it using the links below so we can encourage others! 

5 things your marriage needs every day

worried couple 2

“Someday” is a popular word in marriage. We say things like, “Someday, let’s go to Europe. Someday, let’s do a marriage retreat together. Someday, let’s pay off our house.

Those “someday” goals are good, but there are some things in your marriage that can’t wait for “someday.” They need to happen EVERY day. One day in your marriage without all five of these is one day too long.

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Answers to your 7 biggest questions about sex

couple sunset silhoutte

One of the most popular marriage resources we’ve ever created is the “Best Sex Life Now” video series and workbook. As part of this series, we’ve also been doing call-in Q&A sessions where we’ve been tackling your questions about sexual intimacy in marriage. In last night’s call, we addressed some statistics from a Christian Ministry called “The Marriage Bed” which focuses exclusively on sex in marriage. Those statistics have created some great conversations, and I want to keep the conversation going by addressing some of your biggest questions…

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5 things our kids need to do before summer


I’ve had a bad habit throughout most of my life. I tend to start off things strong, but I haven’t always finished strong.

For example, I’ve attempted to run two marathons in my life. The first one I ran without proper training, and I ran the first half pretty fast (by my standards), but I ran out of steam and ended up laying under a bush around mile 20 with heat exhaustion. A little kid came up to me and offered his bicycle so I could finish. I almost stole his bike, but decided instead to take a shortcut to the finish line where I limped across. It took me so long my wife was about to send out a search party for me!

My second marathon, I actually finished, but by the end, I was moving slowly. The second half of the race took an hour longer than the first half of the race. I was thrilled to finish, but I wish I could have finished stronger. Finishing something is an accomplishment, but finishing with excellence is a much more meaningful accomplishment.

When it comes to the school year, most of us (and our kids), seem to take on classwork like I took on those marathons. We start strong. The first part of of the year we’re getting homework done early and taking on class projects with great enthusiasm, but by the end of the year, we’re dragging and much more focused on summer plans than we are on finishing the school year with excellence.

I want to help my kids develop the life skill of finishing strong, and the school year is a natural way to do it. As I write this, we are only weeks away from the summer break, and we’re all SO READY for it to arrive, but I don’t want to wish away these final moments of the semester and the lessons (both academic lessons and life lessons) that could be learned.

Before we finish this school year, I want our kids to complete the following list. Perhaps, this list (or your own version of it) could be helpful for your family as well:

1. Write a heartfelt Thank You letter to your teachers.

There are few things in life more meaningful that receiving a heartfelt “Thank You” for our hard work. Teachers have one of the most important (but tragically most unappreciated) jobs on the planet. Taking the time to handwrite a letter outlining specific lessons learned and specific compliments to the teacher would be both an encouraging keepsake for the teacher and a wonderful exercise in gratitude for the student.

2. Make your remaining assignments your best of the year.

By the end of the year, you’ve got the most knowledge, so your work at the end of the year should be your very best as long as you put in the effort. I know the weather is nice and the pool is already open, but having the discipline to give our best effort now will make the leisure of summer even more enjoyable later. Make it your mission to get an “A” on every remaining assignment. Finish strong.

3. Review the year and evaluate both “successes” and “failures.”

Every experience is most meaningful and educational when we take the time to give it an honest review. Have you student write down ten lessons or skills they learned this year and at least five areas they’d like to improve on in the year to come.

4. Make specific goals for the summer and the coming school year.

Summer should be a time to relax, but it’s also an opportunity to grow. Help your student prepare some goals for the coming school year and a reading list for the summer. Maybe even give one summer “project” where they can use their creativity to research and create something. Offer some kind of reward he or she will receive once the project is completed.

5. Have fun!

Finishing strong is important, but also make time to enjoy the final days of the school year. Plan a celebration (even if it’s just a cookout with your family) to make the end of the year and congratulate each other on making it through the finish line. Enjoy the final days with classmates and then have a wonderful summer!

For daily encouragement, you can connect with me on Facebook by clicking here.

If this post was helpful to you, please share it using the links below so we can help others too!