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Wives Share What They Have Learned – Part 1

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I think that most of us have realized, this approach does NOT work and is very unattractive to our men – understandably so! 

Wives share what they have learned about how to approach their husbands when they want their husbands to spend more time with them. From our discussion last week. Thank you to all the wives who shared! I don’t expect today’s post to be as big of a trigger for as many wives as hearing from the men was.

WIFE #1

This was a huge area of discontent in my marriage. I realize that it was too many expectations, my need to control the situation, and selfishness on my part.

When I look back my husband always spent time with me, but it wasn’t always the way I wanted.

Also, being a stay at home mom, I felt like he owed it to me to spend time with me when he was home. When he didn’t I became resentful and bitter. I didn’t always enjoy the time we spent together, there was more than one occasion that I ended up in tears because things didn’t work out how I wanted when we were together. I would be hurt if he went to the store by himself, let alone go do something fun.

  • I didn’t really consider how he felt after a hard days work, how he needs much more quiet time then I do.

He is an introvert while I’m an extrovert. I didn’t think about how much he hates being around large groups of people because I love it. That he just doesn’t talk much, and I can talk forever. Or even that he doesn’t like to be touched, but that he will put his arm around me and snuggle with me on the couch because he loves me. How the things that didn’t mean much to me, made him feel so connected.

I was so worried about making sure my needs got met that I missed so many opportunities to connect with my husband.

Once I stopped trying to make him meet my needs, I was able to let go and enjoy. This summer, for example, we went camping with some friends, he spent most of the time fishing by himself, or with the other husband. I could have been bitter and angry, but I had a really great time playing with the kids in the water, getting to know his friends wife, and just being outdoors. Then on the way home, a 3 hour drive with 4 kids under 7 he decided he wanted to take a scenic drive, just to see where it led. The old me would have wanted to control the situation, say, “Um, no thanks, 3 hours is enough,” but instead, I said sure let’s do it. It ended up being an extra 2 hour loop that brought us almost right back to where we started. But we had such a good time. It was so worth it.

Trips like this didn’t happen a few years ago, I would have been angry he wasn’t spending time as a family, and missed the time he did spend with us joyfully around the camp fire, I would not have added 2 hours to our drive, or enjoyed it if we had. And we would have both been bitter and I can say for sure, he wouldn’t have wanted to take me anywhere for a while.

The biggest change was for me to start looking at thimgs from his point of view not mine.

I still get a pang of jealousy when he goes somewhere with his friends without me, but then do something for myself instead, and he ends up coming home to a happy, refreshed wife which makes him want to spend more time with me. And it’s so freeing to not feel angry.

It took a long time to get here, though. There was a lot of healing to be done. At first, when I asked him to spend more time with me, he felt frustrated,  like I was saying he wasn’t doing enough. Now it looks different. I just ask him if he wants to do something with me. Most of the times he will.

 

WIFE #2

My husband and I have struggled with this.

My husband is not a big talker and over the years I know that I have made spending time with me not a safe thing for him.

I’d want to talk over everything during any and all activities, and I’d complain about situations and tell him what he should do, etc. We’d regularly end up fighting. He likes clear, concise, non emotive talks. I’ve seen his face light up when I talk to him in this way. It’s a language he can handle and he feels safe. He loves getting together with male friends and chatting to them. Sometimes I feel envious of this, but I think it’s the way that males talk. He feels safer and I know I have to work on how I talk to him. I am so much better than I was and I really can’t believe it took me so long when he was telling me all along. In my pride I thought I knew better.

  • If I stick to facts, lose the emotion and the complaining and keep it pleasant and positive, he responds. I was the wife in Proverbs 27:15. No wonder he didn’t want to spend time with me!

He was sick with chronic fatigue for many years and as a result can’t handle too much loud noise and being touched actually gave him pain and still does at times. Being a teacher, he comes home from work and wants peace and quiet. I have had to alter my expectations and realise that the world is not going to fall apart if we don’t talk. I’ve got better and keeping myself occupied and learning to be content. There has been a lot of sitting with him while watching tv, but just being in the same room with him makes me quite happy now. He is a musician and will play one of his instruments and sing while I cook or clean and that’s really nice.

The more pleasant I am the more he ventures out of his office to seek me out, to share something with me or hug me.

 

WIFE #3

I have had success with changing my approach. If I say, “you never talk to me,” a man can feel criticized. So I try to say, “I love it when you talk to me. I love the way it makes me feel all warm inside. And I really love the sound of your voice. ” (and I really do love the sound of his voice!). This approach, coupled with the right timing, has gained me some satisfaction with Conversation Hunger.

 

WIFE #4

Hi April, I know we’re all at different stages in our marriages (and feel free to edit this comment if it may be a trigger for others). I’m so blessed, usually my husband wants to spend time with me! (I don’t think this is anything I’ve done – I’m sure it’s the transformative work of Jesus in my husband’s life.)

But when my husband does pull away, it’s always because I was rude – selfish, snappy, condescending :(.

I’ve been married almost three years, and I didn’t know men were so sensitive! But I’ve learned some of them are. Nothing drives my husband away faster than when I talk to him like he’s a child, or get a disdainful tone in my voice! Or when I embarrass him by disagreeing with him in public, or trying to boss him around, even in small ways, like, “Honey, you should tell blah, blah, blah story.”

Funny how good manners and the fruit of the Spirit are really similar :).

On a different note, I’ve found it’s important for me NOT to get my feelings hurt if I feel he isn’t listening. Early in our marriage, I’d be chattering away (usually while he was driving) and he said to me, “Sorry, all circuits are full.” He meant he had to focus on driving and couldn’t give me his attention at that moment. His simple communication helped me understand I couldn’t have his attention at that exact second.

 

WIFE #5

I think having your own hobbies/interest outside of your hubby helps a lot. I know when I am busier and doing things- (out shopping, errands, spending time outside the home with the kids, other people, visiting family, etc.) I am not nearly as focused on my hubby and how much time “we” are together. Most all my friends have moved, so that leaves me a lot of time; however, his few good friends are still in the area so he likes to visit with them for sports, etc.

I know I can’t hold that against him just b/c his friends are around and mine all moved. Also – learning how men relate differently and consider “shoulder-to-shoulder” time the same as we consider girlfriend talk time. (from “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs). So I try to sit with him and watch his sports, etc. and if you change your mindset and realize that is HIS bonding time, then it helps.

Also, saying it in a non-confrontational way so as not to accuse him or come off like you’re saying he doesn’t spend any time with you. I know my hubby likes to be out and is not a homebody so if I just suggest, “Hey, would you like to go to X this Saturday maybe for an hour or so?” He’s usually down and wants to go. If I ask, “Hey, do you want to watch a movie together Friday night?” He usually always says, “Ok.”

Now if I start off complaining and whinny saying how we never spend time together, he’d rather be with his friends, etc. (which sometimes seems true to me) he will automatically go in defense mode and it starts a bickering session.

I think the best approach is to gently let him know, and if he does not respond at all, wait another week or more and gently suggest it again, maybe even suggest doing something with the kids together as a family if he never ever spends time with you alone. And then pray about it daily. Also changing your mindset on how men like to “hang out” and what they consider “spending time together”. Then, when he isn’t, you won’t take such offense to it or take it so personal.

What was a turning point for me, is your blog (of course!) and learning how men relate, etc… – but what was really an eye opener was recently when my hubby had plans to watch a football game with a friend and I myself had something I reeeeally wanted to do on my own. I realized I could care less at that moment what he was doing and that we wouldnt be spending time together- all b/c I had something important to me I wanted to do and not having to “tend” to my hubby during those hours (for lack of a better word) was great b/c I had things I needed to do.

So the lightbulb went off and I realized how sometimes it bothers me when he is busy with others, such as friends, and then when I am busy myself it doesnt bother me at all. Which is not fair to him. but its funny how if your feeling the slightest bit lonely or needy that if he’s busy with others or he’s just not busy with you, it will aggravate you way more. So I try to stay prayed up about this subject ahead of time now- and what I do is if I am not busy at all and I was hoping in my mind to spend “quality time” with him and it does not happen for whatever reason, then that’s God’s cue to me to break out his Word and study, spend time in prayer that I wouldn’t have otherwise, read a good biblical book, or listen to praise music. So those are my suggestions!

“My Husband Gets Angry When I Respectfully Disagree with Him”

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“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17-18. (If you get a chance, please read Romans 12:9-21)

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1

Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20

There are many things that could be going on when our husbands respond in anger when we share our ideas/desires/needs/concerns. This topic could be a book in itself! Here are a few possibilities…

  • A wife may not realize she is coming across disrespectfully in some way – that can make a husband feel disrespected and angry or make him want to shut down. Even a “little tiny bit” of disrespect from a wife’s perspective can be perceived as a lot of disrespect from a husband’s perspective. Some things that we as wives tend not to notice that can seem disrespectful to our husbands can be our word choices that might imply disrespect to our particular husbands, our tone of voice, our facial expressions and body language. (Nonverbal Disrespect – Youtube Video)
  • A wife may be early in this process of learning to stop disrespect and may be trying to figure out respect but is still stumbling often or she may be in The Frustrating Quiet Phase and be afraid to say anything at the moment. It is a difficult thing to learn to discern when to speak and when not to speak at times.
  • A wife may purposely disrespect her husband out of her own pain and anger – which is sin for which we need to repent. It is GOOD for us to share when we are sad, afraid, hurting, nervous or upset. But a wife can share what she wants and needs respectfully as she shows her husband that she is on his team and has his back.
  • A husband may not believe his wife is really changing, so he may assume she intends harm and disrespect even though she is trying to change. He may need time, a lot of time, to see that this is for real and that she is not trying to manipulate him.
  • A wife may try to take control when she disagrees, refusing to submit to her husband’s leadership. That will definitely be frustrating for a man who knows God has called him to lead. It is impossible for him to lead if no one will follow.
  • A husband may think his wife is being sarcastic at first when his wife attempts to speak respectfully because there may be a long history of disrespect, contention and conflict in the marriage.
  • A husband may feel his wife is undermining his leadership and feel his authority is being challenged if she disagrees with him if he is not used to having respectful discussions where there is disagreement. It may take time for him to realize that his wife is no longer going to attack him and that he is safe with her. Eventually, he will see that she will still support, honor him and cooperate with him even when she disagrees. This makes a powerful statement to a husband that his wife trusts him, has faith in him and is on his team.

(Please check out the posts at the top of my home page about disrespect and respect for more info on these topics.)

There are times when a husband may respond in anger even if his wife is being respectful and approaching him in a God-honoring, respectful, polite, gentle way. It isn’t always “her fault” if he gets angry. After all, husbands are sinners, too. Just like wives are.

  • He may still be learning to be a godly man and leader. This is a lifelong process for men, too – to learn to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her. If he is just now beginning to learn to step up and lead for the first time in the marriage or the first time in his life, he may feel overwhelmed, afraid, uncertain or insecure. If he senses that his wife is not supportive of his leadership, is critical, often negative, judgmental or uncooperative, he may respond with anger or he may give up and feel paralyzed as a leader.
  • He may be responding from the old patterns and habits he witnessed from his father or step-father or the men in his life from his past. He may not know yet how to respond gently, lovingly and graciously when his wife respectfully disagrees with him. He may have never had a godly example. And for men who never had a godly example, being a godly husband is just as counter-intuitive to them as being a godly wife is counter-intuitive to us! As a wife seeks to obey God for her role in the marriage, she can trust God to work in her husband and she can encourage and inspire him to become a stronger leader by her godly living and attitude and by her godly femininity.
  • He may be holding on to sin in his own life that is hindering his prayers and keeping him separated from God. That may have nothing to do with his wife. His sin is his responsibility before God. My prayer is that all husbands and wives will be Spirit-filled and obedient to God, that Jesus might be greatly glorified in our marriages.
  • Sometimes, as a wife begins to operate in the power of God, her husband begins to feel conviction about his own sin and lashes out at his wife, trying to get her to sin against him so that he can continue to blame her and not have to examine his own heart and life.
  • It may be that a wife is sharing a LOT of words and negative emotions for a long time and sometimes husbands can feel like they are drowning in an ocean of negative emotions that can be very overwhelming for them at times if the words are too numerous and the emotions are very intense. Sometimes if we can be brief and communicate with lower volume, calmly and without so many tears (if possible), sometimes our husbands can hear us more effectively that way. It may be that we can share things in more of a “bullet point” form instead of a 4000 word essay. We may be able to navigate our many negative feelings and emotions just fine, but sometimes husbands need a more condensed and less detailed version to be able to absorb it and process it.
  • Sometimes, a husband is far from God and is not living in his power and doesn’t have the Holy Spirit to turn to for wisdom and strength of character. At these times I Peter 3:1-6 can be the most powerful approach for a godly wife. (When I Shut Up, My Husband Heard God)
  • Sometimes a husband may have a knee-jerk reaction of anger if his wife doesn’t agree. But if she allows him time to think and process and she doesn’t pressure him about it, he may end up doing what she asked, even if he doesn’t talk about it anymore. This may require great patience on a wife’s part. But, she has done her job by sharing her desires and needs, and then she can pray and trust God to work in her husband’s heart to change his mind.
  • He may have other issues going on.  (If a husband, or anyone, is exhausted, in pain, sick, very hungry, extremely stressed about work or other family issues – it may be wise for us to wait until these needs are taken care of before we attempt to have any major discussions about an important decision.)

WE CAN ONLY CONTROL OURSELVES

It may be that a wife can just simply share her heart and if her husband begins to try to argue, she can avoid engaging in a fight, but just say, “I just wanted to share my feelings on this. Thanks for listening.” And then she may leave it. Many times, in my view, a wife who doesn’t argue and doesn’t allow herself to be sidetracked by distracting tactics  and circular arguments that are meant to blame her or project fault on her, may find that just simply leaving her feelings and thoughts with her husband without engaging in a debate may impact him deeply.

We can share our thoughts without being contentious, prideful, self-righteous, controlling, argumentative or complaining. We can carefully, wisely speak the truth in love after we have spent time in prayer and know that we are seeking God’s will above our own will. We can honor God and our husbands as we approach our men about issues that are important to us. We can have disagreements without sinning on our end of the relationship.

Notice the verse at the top from Romans -“as far as it depends on you live in peace…” That means, there are things that come up in relationships that don’t depend on you, too. Some things in your marriage depend on your husband. You are only responsible for your own obedience to God, your being filled with His Spirit and your faithfulness and submission to Christ. You cannot change your husband. You cannot convict him. You cannot open his eyes. You cannot make him be loving to you or force him to submit himself to Jesus. You cannot change his mind or make him agree with you. You cannot control him. He cannot control you either. That is a good thing. God gives us all a free will.

If you have been on this journey for awhile, and you have been seeking Christ, repenting of any known sin in your own life, seeking to respect and honor your husband – and he continues to respond hatefully if you try to share a differing opinion from his… It may be that you are doing everything you can do.  I pray that God might show you whether this is the case.

Even when we don’t agree with our husbands, we can submit to Christ by submitting to our husbands’ leadership. That speaks more powerfully about our genuine respect for our husbands than almost anything else we could do. (Submitting Under Protest) As a husband sees over time that his wife shares her heart and thoughts, but that she ultimately supports his final decision if they cannot agree after discussion, he will often eventually soften to his wife and be able to hear her heart more clearly. Sometimes this takes a lot of time. But other times, a wife may find that if she just simply shares her desires/feelings briefly and calmly, that even though her husband may seem angry at first, he may eventually do what she asked, even though she didn’t pressure him about it. Some men may just need some time to think. They may even apologize for their angry reaction later.

This can be VERY painful. But it is also exciting to see how God might work in the situation as we seek to obey and honor Him. If you believe your husband is asking you  to sin, please check out Spiritual Authority.

WE ALL NEED GOD, HIS VOICE, HIS SPIRIT and HIS WISDOM FOR THIS!

This is where we all need great sensitivity to God’s Spirit. Only He has the wisdom we need in a given situation to prompt us whether a certain situation is a time when we should pray and wait on Him quietly and say nothing, staying out of His way, or whether we should respectfully, briefly, gently, vulnerably share our hearts or whether we should confront our husbands. I certainly don’t have God’s wisdom for every situation and I don’t have all the answers for every marriage. But thankfully, God does!

Just because a husband will get upset does not necessarily mean his wife should say nothing. I believe we generally have a responsibility as wives to share our ideas, needs, desires and concerns with our husbands. If we completely give up expressing our desires, ideas, personalities, influence, feelings and needs – that is not real intimacy and no healthy husband wants a wife who does not or cannot think and feel for herself.

It is easy for a wife of a more dominant husband to feel like she is losing her mind and sanity if her husband gets angry and blames her or turns on her if she shares that she wants to do something different from what he wants to do. She may be tempted to think, “Well, I must have not been respectful enough. That is why he is angry. If I just said it more respectfully, he wouldn’t have gotten mad. I just can’t ever say things right. I just shouldn’t say what I want, think or need at all.”

That is NOT necessarily true, precious wife!

This will require God’s wisdom and careful examination of our hearts and our true motives. There are times when a wife is doing everything right and a husband is still unwilling to listen to his wife. He may have some growing to do. That can be painful for both the husband and his wife. Or, God may be leading him to make the decision he is making and the wife may not see that until later. I long to see wives stand firm in Christ in such situations and to see them seek to please Jesus above all else and to be faithful and obedient to Him. Ultimately we must be concerned about pleasing our Audience of One – God – much more than anyone else, even our husbands. Ideally we can seek to please both. But there may be times when a husband is very difficult or impossible to please. I pray that God might strengthen wives so that their faith is unshakable and that they might have His wisdom and power to respond as God desires them to even in the face of being wrongly accused or misunderstood or unfairly blamed.

Sometimes 1 Peter 3:1-6 is our best approach. I Corinthians 13:4-8, Philippians 4:4-8 and Galatians 5:22-23 certainly apply to every situation. Sometimes we may need to confront our husbands in a Matthew 7:1-5 and then Matthew 18:15-17 way. We are all desperately in need of God’s wisdom and leadership in these times of conflict. Sometimes it will be a combination of scriptures and God’s Spirit’s prompting that we need.

Almost all husbands really do want their wives to be happy. As they discover that is is possible to please their wives and as they feel supported and honored and respected – most husbands, eventually, will seek to do what is truly best for their wives and families and will enjoy delighting their wives.

PLEASE SHARE!

I pray that some wives who have been down this road with a husband who responds in anger even when the wife is being respectful as she shares that she disagrees with him might share your stories with the other wives who need some encouragement. Often a husband who responds in anger rather than passive withdrawal is a more dominating, strong personality. What works with more passive husbands is often not what works with strong and dominating husbands. What has God shown you? What doesn’t work in your marriage? What works? What blesses your husband? What helps him to hear your heart? How do you respond in a godly way when he lashes out in anger that is undeserved on your part? Let’s talk about this together! Maybe some husbands might also have some suggestions that may be helpful for the wives who are afraid to speak their thoughts because their husbands respond in anger almost every time.

PS

Please keep in mind, if you have serious marriage problems – physical abuse, addictions,  unrepentant infidelity, uncontrolled mental health disorders, or one of you experienced major abuse in childhood or a previous relationship and need deep emotional/spiritual healing, please seek godly, biblical, trusted, experienced help in person. I am not able to address these kinds of issues here, and my blog may not be the best fit for you. God’s Word always applies to us all. But those with severe problems are going to need much more specialized help than I can offer.

RELATED:

Confronting Our Husbands’ Sin

A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage

I am Trying to Be Respectful, and My Husband is More Unloving Than Ever!

How to Make Your Husband an Idol

God Didn’t Give Me a Good Husband

Why Should I Have to Submit to My Husband in the Little Things – Part 1

A Peaceful Separated Wife

The Dryer Incident

The Difference Between Complaining and Sharing

Replacing the Tapes in My Head

A Husband Answers – Why Won’t My Husband Lead in Our Marriage?

 

“Your Blog Made Me SO Angry!”

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An email I received from a dear wife.  LOVE this.  I receive a lot of emails in this same vein.  Many wives say things like, “I hated you and I loved you.”  The stuff I share is HARD to hear.  We aren’t used to being confronted with our sin as women.  That is PAINFUL.  And we aren’t used to obeying God’s commands for us as wives many times.  It doesn’t make sense to our sinful nature or our logic to do what God says to do.  In fact, His commands are counter-intuitive, counter-cultural and totally un-politically correct.  And yet, God’s way works.  His wisdom is infinitely higher than our own.  Thank you to this precious sister in Christ for allowing me to share:

I was looking for something totally unrelated to your blog and ran across it-I really don’t know why I am contacting you, but hear me out. This is not a negative email, but it may look that way at first.

I am a Christian wife and mom.

Now, I have read Laura Doyle’s “The Surrendered Wife” book – incidentally it was actually stolen along with my little red prayer book from my workbag one night when I’d left the van unlocked. Someone must really have been in need.  Anyway, I digress.

A few years ago I read her book and also did a challenge for 30 days.  At the end of all the encouraging emails and texts and effort I put in with my husband that month (I felt quite proud of myself and was certain he would also), all he said was

“You did all that because someone in a book told ya to?”

I was livid – plus hurt and betrayed and at that moment I was DONE with all the surrendering. Let’s just say I reverted big time.  

I had been arguing and fussing and nasty to my husband and being a holiday coming up, my disrespectful behavior was out in full force. Everything that didn’t go my way seemed to be my hubby’s fault, why couldn’t he just see that?

Monday I stumbled upon and read your blog, and

I read as far as I could stand it. My initial feelings were revulsion and disbelief.  

  • I couldn’t believe this just popped up when I wasn’t even looking for it, and who cares about this “Peaceful” wife and her playing the doormat for her husband?

I set my tablet aside in disgust and refused to read anymore.

Wednesday was bad and Thursday was worse.  I complained and fussed and was generally unbearable most of the holiday morning.  I can see this clearly now for some reason. I even called my mom to complain, she was Christian and loving enough to correct me right then and there.  After speaking with my mom, I felt bad – but not like condemned bad.

I felt convicted.  

I didn’t rehash everything with my husband, but I went to him and apologized.  I told him I was totally ashamed at my behavior and I would work on it.  He graciously and lovingly held me and whispered that everything was alright.

We ended up having a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.  That night,  I started to analyze events over the past week.  For some reason, I picked up my tablet again and read more of the blog.

I began to see that this wasn’t me and my hubby as much as it was me and God.  About my inability to trust God.  

If anyone asked me, I would say God gave me my husband, made just for me.

  • So did I or did I not believe God?
  • Was I really so prideful that I couldn’t see any other way but my way?
  • Just what was I so afraid of that I try to control everything to save my feelings and what I thought was right?

I began to see that when I was anxious and complaining and afraid things wouldn’t turn out like I wanted, I wasn’t trusting God.  Wow.  Just like that. So I was being prideful, willful, arrogant. I hadn’t realized I was behaving in opposition to the way the Lord wanted me to.  I hadn’t before grasped the seriousness of that thought.  I thought I was being a great Christian and quite frankly, my husband was the one who should be working to get right.  When I read this line in the about section of your blog “Apparently, I was extremely spoiled, selfish and spiritually immature but I didn’t know I was“, I felt as if that was written about me!

  • How could I not have known?

It wasn’t revealed to me until that moment, when I unconsciously had cried out to God that I wasn’t happy, He showed me why I was unhappy and gave me the means to start anew.

So my initial feelings did turn into shame, but morphed into resolve.

I began to see that I didn’t go about surrendering before for the right reasons. Then I wanted pats on the back, I wanted to feel like a “superior being” endeavoring to be good to my inferior husband because I was so “good” and he was “so beneath me,” really.

Now I want to be the wife God wants me to be since he gave me this husband just for me.  I just wanted to tell you how I almost cannot put into words the feeling for God this revelation gives me. How He loves me enough to give me the understanding about this.  The wisdom He has I cannot fathom but me coming across your blog written in a way that I can identify with at just the right moment feels so awesome.  It feels how “right” feels. I know this was a long email but I felt like I had to tell someone and I felt like you would understand.  I am on the right path now, I think and just wanted to let you know how God used your blog to help me when I needed it.

Thanks so much for listening (reading).

FROM PEACEFULWIFE:

PRAISE GOD!

What an incredible answer to my prayers to see God change women’s hearts, bring them to conviction and true repentance and then see them set out on God’s narrow path that leads to life!  WOOHOO!  It just doesn’t get any better than this! 

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