Tips

Like most husbands, I like to connect with my wife at the end of the day. I hear about her daily adventures, listen to her work through decisions, and all the while, I’m thinking about how to solve all her conundrums. I am a Mr. Fix It.

My “Mr. Fix It” approach has improved over the years. I’m learning (present tense) to set aside my instinct to solve everything and be a better listener. I’ve found that with my wife, friends, and others, they simply want to put words to their feelings, not necessarily have me looking for missing puzzle pieces.

If you’re like me, a Mr. Fix-It, don’t be a tool. Instead, reach for these tools in your relationship toolbox and put them to good use.

1) ASK QUESTIONS

Mr. Fix-It’s are prone to answer quickly, but a better strategy is to ask questions.

Even if we think we know the answer, we need to allow others to journey there too. Providing quick answers to someone’s dilemma is like blindfolding them on the journey to their destination. Instead, allow them to see the road, the markers, the turns, the landmarks along the way from their problem to the solution.

2) ADMIT SHORTCOMINGS

No one likes a know-it-all. Mainly, because they think they know-it-all (honestly, who does?). Regardless of your intentions, Mr. Fix It’s can come across like arrogant jerks. So how do you help your mate without coming across wrong?

Admit shortcomings.

Listen, you’re not perfect, and your spouse knows that more than anyone. And by sharing your struggles, mistakes, or frustrations, you come across as more human.  This makes you more relatable and invites others to open up more with you. Your words hold more meaning because they aren’t coming from up-on-high, but from beside. Which is where we’re supposed to be anyway.

3) WATCH YOUR TONE

Mr. Fix It’s are pro’s at providing information, but communication is much more than that. It’s about influencing thoughts, actions, and emotions. This rule is this: It’s not about what you say, it’s about what she hears.

I was reminded of this in a recent discussion with my wife. It went something like this:

Her: “What pillow case color do you think would better accent our comforter?”

Preoccupied with something else, I said: “Whatever you think looks best.”

What she heard: “Whatever, I’ve got more important things to do.”

What I meant: “Your eye for design is so much better than mine. Left to myself, I’d throw an old Philadelphia Eagles comforter on a pull-out sofa and would be lucky to even consider a pillow case. You make our bedroom comfortable, warm, and inviting. Because of this I have absolute trust in your taste.”

Looking back, I can see why she would feel the way she did. I didn’t say anything wrong, but my disinterest in the topic at hand made it seem like I had a disinterest in her. That’s not what I intended, but later she told me that’s how it came across.

You may be quite good at choosing the right words, but what you communicate could be something else entirely. In relationships, communication is a crucial survival skill that we continually need to sharpen.

4) FOCUS ON HER

She matters more than anything to you, right? Then you need to make her feel like she does. When visiting with your mate, remove all distractions and zero in on her. Put away your phone, reading material, and all electronic devices. Look at her in the eyes and repeat what she is saying in your own words.

Why does all this matter? Because she matters. Prove it with your actions.

If she’s in a boat of joy, sadness, confusion, frustration, whatever…Get in the boat with her!

If you want to offer a solution (if there is one), you need to earn the right. You do this by letting her know you really understand her and what she’s going through.

Remember, relationships are more art than science. There’s no magic formula, but if you put forth the effort to do these things, it will only help make your relationship even better.

At least that’s what I’m learning.

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sockssandals

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.” {Jack Handey}

It’s been said that shoes make the man. Everyone from employers to ladies turn their gaze downward to inspect your kicks.  While I believe what makes a man is far more than fashion, your footwear does say something about your attention to detail and style.

To help steer us all away from becoming a walking fashion slip-up, here are some all-too-common faux pas to avoid with our feet:

1. Wearing socks with sandals

It’s a bold move to pull this look off. I’ve only met a few people who can do it and get away with it. They typically socially awkward and folks tend to feel sorry for them in their Crocs and formerly white socks.  Or they’re from Alaska. If that’s you, I’m glad you’re here.

For the rest of you, I understand some rules are made to be broken, but before you rebel against fashion etiquette, know the rules first. And the rule is this: DON’T WEAR SOCKS WITH SANDALS!  Just take that off the table of options right now. They make casual shoes that work just fine.

2. White socks with dark pants

I see you pointing a finger and laugh at the sandal guy, Mr. White Socks with Dark Pants dude. Before you get all high and mighty, I’ve got a question for you: are you kidding me? Especially you guys who wear slacks at work.

Let me spell it out clearly: Never, ever, ever wear white socks with slacks of any kind. And avoid wearing them with dark pants (including jeans) in general.

For business or business casual wear, your socks should match your pants. Many guys make the mistakes of trying to match their shoes. That will often work out if the shoes match the pants, but the rule is socks match pants.

Repeat: socks match pants.

If your socks have multiple colors, use the primary color of the sock to make a determination.  This will help you avoid embarrassing yourself and our gender.

Oh, and play it safe, and leave white socks for the gym bag.

3. Mismatched shoe style with wardrobe

This one can get tricky. Every once in a while, you run across a situation where you’re not sure what style shoe to wear. Often, these are those in between times when you’re not fully dressed up in a slacks and a button down or you’re not fully dressed down in pajama pants and that old, trusty shirt you’ve had for ten years.

This is often your social attire. When you’re going to a gathering, on a casual date, or out in public.

How do you ensure you’ve selected the right kicks for the occasion? 9 times out of 10, the answer is: look at your shirt.

The style of your top will typically tell you the style of shoe.
Magnum P.I.
Wearing a t-shirt and jeans?
A good pair of Chucks work well. As do most sneakers.

Wearing a button down shirt with jeans?
Casual loafers, oxfords, or boots are solid. The key is to avoid a real shiny dress shoe with jeans.

When you’re sporting your Magnum P.I. Hawaiian shirt look with cargo’s, khaki’s, or shorts?
You can get away with sandals or sneakers. (Although, the rule for wearing a Hawaiian shirt should be that you have to be able to pull of the Stache of Selleck look, too).

Whatever the combo, let your top be your guide.

4. Shoes don’t match belt color

As a rule of thumb, your shoe color should match your belt color.  Don’t mismatch a brown belt with black shoes or vice versa.  This is quite simple, yet we see it all the time. Don’t let it be you.

You will hear rumors that this rule is a myth, but unless you are a fashion icon (who knows the rules so he can break them) don’t try it. Especially in professional environments.  I know it’s punk rock and all to go your own way, but this tried-and-true style remains.

5. Dirty Shoes

Shoes touch the ground. As a result, they will get dirty. Regardless of style, it’s good to keep your shoes clean. Often, a simple wash cloth will do the trick.  In a pinch, a sock will work fine as well.

For many shoes and boots, an occasional polish is needed. Having spent time in the military, I learned very quickly how to shine shoes. There’s an art and craft to it that only comes with practice. But most guys haven’t had this experience. If that’s you, here’s a solid step-by-step guide to help you out.

Keep ‘em clean. It matters.

Footnote (pun intended):

With shoes, you get what you pay for. One pair of high-quality shoes will last you longer than several pairs of poorly crafted kicks. They will feel better too. So, invest in your feet. They deserve it.

One final footnote. Try on and buy shoes later in the day. By that time, your feet have swollen to their largest size. This will help optimize the comfort level of your shoes.

 

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