#30 How to Invest in Your Marriage with Jackie Bledsoe [podcast]

Have you ever felt distant from your wife? I have.  In my 23 years of marriage, there were times my wife and I drifted apart. It's easy to do. Work, kids, hobbies, etc. just make life hectic at times. We eventually learned to be intentional about nurturing our marriage. Jackie Bledsoe has had the same experience. In this episode, we discuss how to best invest in your marriage.

Jackie Bledsoe and his family

Here's my family and I (can't help but share)

Plan Well:  Invest in Your Marriage

In this week's episode, Jackie and I discuss how married men can become the leaders they want to be.

Jackie helps husbands and fathers learn how to lead and love their families so they can have lasting, fulfilling marriages and a meaningful influence on their kids.

We discuss:

  • How to be the leader you want to be
  • Husband as a servant leader
  • The G.E.T. strategy: Give, Encourage, Teach
  • How to control your inner voice
  • The importance of having a date night with your wife
  • The top ten dates to improve communication
  • How to have date nights that fit your time and budget
  • Lessons he learned from his parent's 50-year marriage
  • Why you need to know the  7 Rings of Marriage

Want to be a better husband and father? Check out Jackie's great resources:

Invest Wisely: Should I Worry About Big Bad Events?

The recent anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack reminds us that big bad events can happen in the world. There always seems to be some catastrophic event "just around the corner." Right now the potential boogie men are:

  • Russia and the Ukraine
  • ISIS
  • Syria
  • Terrorist threats
  • China

Should you worry about these as you invest for your future? It sure seems so. This week, I take a look at how markets acted after some of the biggest "big bad events" over the last 75 years.

It's easy to act emotionally when investing.  Our emotions drive most decisions. Fear (and greed) are powerful feelings that can cause us to make poor decisions. If you are going to Invest Wisely for your future, it's important you focus on facts and process. This will help you make smarter financial decisions.

Here's a table to give you some perspective on how a diversified portfolio responded to past "big bad events":

Read the Full Transcript Here

[spoiler] The Retirement Answer Man Episode #30

Holy cow! I can’t believe that we are on the 30th week of the Retirement Answer Man Show and I am so grateful that you are here with me today. My name is Roger Whitney; I am the Retirement Answer Man and our mission here is to help you live will today without sacrificing your tomorrow, to help find that balance in life when you’re making financial decisions so you can secure a great retirement but still live well today.

To help you on that journey today, we have two great topics.

In our Investing Corner, we’re going to talk about event risk and geopolitical risk. Should you worry about the next big bad thing that’s going to happen in the world and what that will do to the markets? And give you some historical perspective there.

In our Retirement Tip of the Week – still trying to figure out what to rename that segment so, if you have an idea, shoot me an email at rogerwhitney.com – we’re going to have a conversation with Jackie Bledsoe. Jackie is a wonderful man. He is a father, he is a husband, he is a leader, and we’re going to talk about relationships with our spouse – investing in our relationships. I’ve often said that one of the best investments you can make financially is in your relationships because the cost of dissolved relationships later in life can be financially very costly but, also, emotionally devastating. So, we’re going to talk to Jackie about how to strengthen your marriage and stay connected to the one that you love.

You can find me on the internet at rogerwhitney.com – that is the home of the Retirement Answer Man. That is also the home of the Retirement Answer Library where I have a library of checklists and worksheets that you can use to make smarter decisions in your life. These are checklists that I use in my own life and in my practice as a certified financial planner and you get access to them for free to use just by going to rogerwhitney.com.

Well, before we get started today, we need to have the all-important disclosure. This will make my attorneys happy but, more importantly, it will center us for how to take in and use all the information on this show and, really, anything you read on the internet. And that is, before you make any decisions based on something you hear here or read on the internet or read on my blog, make sure to consult the people that know you best. Don’t take advice from people like me that don’t know anything about you. All I can do is share some of my lessons and understanding of my 23 years of being a financial advisor and working with couples and individuals that are on that pathway towards retirement and making smarter financial decisions. I can share a lot of my experiences and my perspective but, at the end of the day, I don’t know a thing about you so don’t take advice from me unless we work together in an official capacity. Look at what we’re talking about here today as helpful hints and education.

Before you make any decisions in your own life, consult the people that do walk with you – whether that’s your financial advisor, your tax consultant, or your legal consultant – and that’s not just a great legal disclosure, that’s a great way to get centered to take in whatever information we have to share today with the right spirit.


INVEST WISELY: Should we worry about the next big geopolitical event?

Just pick your poison on what that might be. We just passed an anniversary of probably the most devastating one – at least in my lifetime – which was the attack on 9/11. Do you remember where you were at when 9/11 occurred? I know I was on a treadmill, I think, when the first plane hit. Everybody thought it was a small little Cessna plane of some sort. Finished my workout, watching whatever new station it was, and I got into my office – at the time, I was working at a major financial firm – and walked into the office as things start to unfold. I didn’t have a TV in my office so I was across the hall with Mike Westbrook who is a financial advisor and still in the business – good guy – and he and I sat there for eight hours, watching everything unfold. I’m sure you remember that day and you can recall those emotions.

I remember when it got around 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon – my office was probably 45 minutes away from my home at that time – and I remember getting this weird guttural feeling. It was like, “I need to get out of here. I need to get close to my family.” I can remember that distinctly. There wasn’t any one thought. I just had this, “Man, you know what? This is not where I need to be. I need to be close to my kids and close to my wife,” and I had no clue why. You know, airplanes weren’t flying, I mean, the sights and the sounds and everything was just devastating and I had been watching it nonstop and crying all day in that room with Mike – I remember that – and I just knew I needed to get home.

And then, the aftermath of everything and all the speculation and the cleanup and the results of what occurred then. The markets were closed for about a week – I remember that – and I’d go into the office every single day and I would sit there and I would call all the clients that I worked with and had relationships with to help give them some perspective and to console them and console each other really, not knowing what’s going to happen, not just with terrorism and 9/11 but with the economy, with people’s jobs, with the markets when they finally opened up – just the general uneasiness that nothing will ever be the same and the world has changed forever. I imagine that was a lot how people felt when Pearl Harbor occurred, except that it wasn’t carried real-time. Those feelings are very scary. It makes us want to close the hatches and button down and really be conservative and tightknit.

I think 2007 and 2008 – in a very different way, not in such a vitriol emotional way like 9/11 but – I think the economic crisis of 2007 and 2008 had the same type of effect but in more of a general confidence about the entire system and the leaders and the corporations and the feeling that the system was rigged and everything else and the same type of reaction took place. It’s very easy just simply to pull back and do nothing. Sometimes, that could be the worst thing that you do.

When a bad event happens, there’s this uneasiness. “What’s the next thing? Where is the next shoe going to drop?” Especially after 2007 and 2008, we’ve all been waiting and waiting for that next shoe to drop. Since that market crisis of 2007 and 2008, I mean, look at it. It’s become the age of safety. You’ve had nine trillion dollars in money markets in savings accounts. That’s an all-time high!

People value cash. They don’t care about inflation. They don’t care about returns. They just want to have their money. That’s the virtual equivalent of stuffing it in the mattress like The Great Depression. Mainstream investors have been pulling hundreds of billions of dollars out of the equity markets and going into bonds and government bonds and things that are perceived to be extremely safe. The general feeling, even now – you know, six years later – is there’s no confidence in the system and it’s broken. It’s just a matter of time.

Meanwhile, during this entire time since 2009, the markets have more than doubled. We’re at all-time highs in the equity markets. What do you do now? The shoe hasn’t dropped and, more than likely, we will have some big economic/geopolitical event in our future. It’s just a matter of time. It could be one year; it could be ten years. These things happen over and over again in history

So, the question becomes, from an investment management perspective, how do you manage with that? Do we need to really worry about these huge unexpected events? What does history teach us about those? Let’s look at those because, a lot of times, what happens is the craziness and the impactfulness of the event, it’s all hat and no cattle when it comes to the equity markets over time.

Let’s look historically at some of the major events that happened that you would think just destroyed the economy. Let’s go back to the original attack on Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941. The day that Pearl Harbor occurred – and, again, news doesn’t move quite as quickly when all of these things happened – the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2.92 percent – that’s the one-day reaction to Pearl Harbor, to a sneak attack that brought us into World War II. One month later, Dow Jones was down less than a percent. Over the next six months, it was down a total of 6 percent. And then, one year later, on December 7, 1942, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 2.88 percent which was, at its time, the equivalent of 9/11, a year later was a blip in terms of stock returns based on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Well, let’s start to move forward just to more recent events. Let’s go to October 22, 1962. That’s the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, this is before my time and I didn’t really live through the Red Scare but, when I talked to my parents and my grandparents, my understanding was we were about to blow up the world. We were at a crisis, a worldwide crisis of blowing up the world, and the day that that Cuban Missile Strike Crisis started, the Dow Jones was down 1.85 percent. But, a month after that, it was up 15 percent and then, one year later, it was up almost 34 percent. Obviously, you know, that resolved quicker.

Let’s go to bigger things. Let’s go all the way up to September 11, 2001 – the attack on the World Trade Centers. On that day, the Down Jones Industrial Average was down 7 percent – just over 7 percent. Markets closed for a week. The stock market closed down for a week and there was a lot of trepidation about what’s going to happen when these markets open up again. Well, let’s look at it. One month later, one month after 9/11 2001, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.66 percent. So, it had recovered a little under half its losses. And then, six months later, it was up 11 percent. And then, for the year one year later, it was down about 8 to 9 percent.

These major events – we’re talking Pearl Harbor, us entering World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the destruction of the World Trade Center – these epic global events that affected the economy, the geopolitical makeup, our sense of optimism or pessimism about the world, and even after the 2007-2008 economic collapse, near collapse of the economy, even as we entered this age of safety from retail investors, the markets are at all-time highs.

The point I’m trying to make here is not that you don’t have to worry about major market events or political events or economic events; you definitely want to pay attention to them, but you can’t let the fear of those things or the greed of the opposite – the over-exuberance of things – drive your investment decision-making. If you want to invest wisely in your life for retirement or for whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve, you want to make sure you have a plan that’s based on facts – not speculation, not supposition, not extrapolation which is what a lot of investment strategies end up being based on. You want to have an investment plan that’s based on facts, based on your particular situation, and focused on achieving what it is you and your family care about most

Do you need to worry about these next big events? From an investment perspective, you need to be aware of them, but you should not let them drive your investment decision-making.

Hopefully that was helpful to give you some perspective. I’ll put a chart up or a table I guess it’s called. I’ll put a table up in the show notes showing some of the major economic and political events over the last sixty or seventy years and where the market was the day they happened and then where they were one month later, six months later, and one year later to give you some perspective so, the next time we’re worried about what’s going to happen in Syria, or with ISIS, or ISI, or whatever they’re called, or with Russia, this will give you some perspective to not let that drive your entire investment strategy.


PLAN WELL:   Investing in Your Marriage

Well, this week, I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Jackie Bledsoe. Jackie is a father, he’s a husband, he’s a writer, and he’s a leader. He writes prolifically about being a leader in your family and how to protect your marriage and build a stronger marriage. I always talk about investing in your marriage is one of the best things that you can do and Jackie shares some practical advice on the things that you need to look out for, things that you can do to make sure that you and your spouse are walking hand in hand together so, as you move into that retirement stage, that you’re positioned for your life to be the best that it can be.

Here’s my conversation with Jackie.

ROGER: One of the things that we talk a lot about on this podcast, Jackie, is one of the best investments a person can make is in their relationship with their spouse. I mean you look at statistics – 50 percent of all first marriages end in divorce, 67 percent of second marriages and 74 percent of third marriages. From a financial perspective, that’s a huge cost financially. But, obviously, on the personal level, it’s even a bigger issue.

It’s so important that you focus on being a leader in your family. Can you tell me a little bit about being a leader as a husband in a family? I know that’s something that you talk about a lot.

JACKIE: Definitely, yeah. Being in a leader of my family was one thing that I struggled with early on which kind of fueled my passion to (1) learn how to be a better leader so that I could be better for my wife, better for my kids, and (2) after I started to figure it out, I guess, a little bit, that I wanted to share it with other people being I realized, in conversations with friends or just paying attention to what’s going on online, that a lot of men struggle in this area where we’re great leaders in the workplace but, when it comes to home, we don’t always take that same initiative with leading our family and our household.

ROGER: Now, how long have you been married?

JACKIE: We have been married for 13 years in June.

ROGER: In June, okay. What were some of the things that you found as you focused on becoming a leader of your family? What does that mean even to be a leader of your family?

JACKIE: Well, I think it’s somewhat similar to what you do in the workplace. One is that effective leaders in the workplace aren’t the ones that are kind of standing at the top, barking out orders, and expecting everybody else to carry them out. Really effective leaders across the board are those who are actually serving. When you’re serving, when you’re out front, when you’re doing everything that you’ve asked your kids to do, or even that you ask of your wife, then you’re really stepping into that role of leadership where it’s more about your service and meeting those needs than it is about you giving directives or orders or things like that.

ROGER: And that’s really hard to keep up when we’re in such a busy life and we’re used to being in-charge at work. It’s almost hard to come home because you feel so not in-charge.

JACKIE: Right. Yeah, I can definitely agree with that. You know, it seems so natural for men out in the workplace to do it, but I don’t know why it seems so unnatural at home when I think it should be more natural because that’s the first place. I think, if you are an effective leader at home, then you can definitely be an effective leader out in the workplace. And, I think the opposite is, if you’re not effective at home, then I have a hard time believing that you’ll be effective in the workplace. It may feel like it or seem like it because people are looking up to you as the role, but you’re not really leading them. There’s a difference between being a leader in title and in the things that you actually do.

ROGER: When you think about walking with your spouse – and we’ve been married 24 years, just about, next month.

JACKIE: Awesome.

ROGER: Yeah, it’s exciting. She’s a very strong, independent woman so being a leader, like you said, it’s not barking out orders. What is it?

JACKIE: It’s serving. One of the biggest examples of leadership that I give is actually from the Bible and it’s Jesus. You know, he was a servant leader and what he did was he didn’t go out and expect to be at the top. Everybody else expected him to be here, “I’m going to be this great warrior. I’m going to do this.” But he served; he served in ways of washing people’s feet. Think about that in terms of your spouse. What can you do? That was a humbling thing. He had to get down on his knees and wash, back then, probably filthy feet. So, what can we do for our wives that show us serving them and more putting them up above us instead of us trying to put ourselves above them and saying, “Okay. You have to do this and you have to do that. Follow my lead.” They follow your lead when you’re serving in that way.

ROGER: I guess, when you approach it from that mindset, you strengthen the family because, as you do that over time, it encourages them to do the same – to start thinking about you rather than being resentful for all the things that you demand.

JACKIE: Definitely.

In my ebook, The Family Leader Manifesto, I share three things that really kind of make up that leader role and I call it an acronym of GET. The first is give. If you think about it, you want to give first into the relationship with your spouse and into the relationship with your kids. Next, you want to encourage them. Think about, if you’ve ever been in a situation with a leader and they’re discouraging, you do not want to follow that person. You do not want to do what they do. You want to get even or get out. And then, the last thing is to teach. You know, we all should be life-long learners. There are so many lessons that happen in just day-to-day life. Now, we get to that point where we’ve learned something and we want to share that – you know, not in a “do this” but “here’s what I learned from my mistakes, other people’s mistakes, from my successes, from observing you.” This is what we do. I just really push, not push but, encourage the giving first; encouraging, always be encouraging as much as you possibly can; and then, teaching from the very experiences that you have.

ROGER: Wow! That just sounds so easy! So, why are the statistics so bad?

JACKIE: That is a great question. I think there’s a lot of people who don’t really understand leadership. I think that outside and definitely inside the home, they think leadership is this authoritarian role where you’re there and, “Okay. Now, I call the shots. I do this.” But it is totally different. It is where you are truly giving of yourself and you’re trying to put that other person above. You want to encourage them.

The teaching just comes from something that, you know, “I’ve experienced this so I don’t want you to have to go through that negative that I went through,” or, “I’ve experienced something good. Try this or do this.” That really applies to your kids, you know. And you may share some lessons with your life, a lot of times, it’s lessons that you go through together as a couple.


ROGER: And those three things are so important. The hard part – and I guess it’s that way with a lot of things – is that you read it, “Oh, yeah, that’s right. You should be that way,” and then you go yell at your kids. It’s a lot harder then because you actually have to internalize it.


Right before we were talking, I got off the phone with my son who is at Texas Tech University and he’s two and a half weeks on his own. He’s a little freaked out about it. He got some parking violations and they’re saying the license plate is wrong and he is so frustrated and taking it out on me as we talk about it because he’s used to turning to me for guidance. Part of me just wants to say, you know, “Suck it up, buttercup, and deal with it.” But then, you have to always keep yourself centered and be that teacher rather than the teller, right? There’s a big difference between being a teacher and internalizing that giving mentality than just being a teller.


JACKIE: Right. I agree. Right now, he’s frustrated, he’s hurt, and, like you said, instead of internalizing that and taking that as an attack on you, you know, he’s really crying out. He needs some encouragement and he needs that teacher – that coach, that counselor. You know, now he’s at that point where he’s making his own decisions. You know, we have a four-year-old; he’s not at that point where we have to tell him, “Well, here, this is what you’ve got to do.”


You know, you may have to just present the situation to him, ask some questions, and allow him to kind of find those lessons or what’s going on with it on his own, kind of a mentorship where they don’t always tell you, “Do this. Do that.” They’re kind of asking you questions and positioning you to actually determine the answer. They probably know the answer and the best choice to make, but it doesn’t help you if you’re not growing. I think he’s probably in that situation, as a college kid. But I would imagine, first week there and he’s super frustrated because he gets this ticket or whatever – permit is not right – so that encouragement and then that mentorship-type teaching can be helpful.


ROGER: So, when you’re walking with your spouse – and we’re talking about having that giving attitude and being a teacher and a leader – what are some steps you can take to actually internalize those things rather than just talk about them and then forget about them? What are some steps you can take to really internalize and walk with your spouse in that spirit?


JACKIE: One of my big things is I notice when I’m doing well with that and when I’m not doing well with that is when I try to get some time away and that time away is usually in the morning and that is my time of prayer and reading. You know, I try to fill myself up with scriptures that relate to that, and not just scriptures – quotes that are about serving your wife – because it’s so easy to just get caught in day-to-day and go about and react to stuff. I want it to be so far in me that that naturally comes out. I think it just has to be something that you continue to put in you over and over again.


I remember an analogy that someone gave about two dogs and whichever dog you feed the most is the one that’s going to win out. So, you get a dog that is malnourished and hasn’t been fed then that other dog is going to tear it apart. Same thing with that. If you want to be more giving, if you want to be more encouraging to your wife, then you have to feed yourself with those things – encouraging thoughts, you have to focus on the good and not the bad, and I’m not going to say I’m perfect at it. My lessons are from my own silly mistakes and continue and even after you think you’ve got it and you revert back and you’re like, “Uh, man,” and you’re just frustrated. I think it’s a process over time; again and again, you have to keep putting it inside yourself.


ROGER: Yeah, and the deterioration of a marriage is like the Grand Canyon. It’s slowly eating away at the foundations and the love over time and that’s the inner conversation. If you’re feeding that inner conversation towards resentment and spitefulness and things like that, that has a cumulative effect just like reading and filling your mind with things that get you focused on more productive behaviors and thoughts.


JACKIE: Correct. It’s just so subtle that that stuff happens. You know, when people split up, when people go through divorce, it seems like, “Oh, man. Where did that come from?” But it’s been, over time, a build-up. Even my wife and I, we noticed, one thing that was hugely missing in our relationship was really just dating each other and things that come from dating each other – the intimacy and the connection. We sat back and realized it like, man, there was probably a period in our relationship and our marriage where we didn’t date – not just for weeks or months but a period of years. You know, we can chalk it up to having kids and being in that grind of being a parent, a new parent, and early parenting. But we just got complacent and we allowed other things to take precedence over what was going to build our relationship. The same thing happens to other people – whether it’s not dating, whether it’s letting the resentment thoughts continue to fester. Now, you act upon that. You just have to continue to watch what you’re doing on a regular basis – habits of thought, habits of word, and habits of action.


ROGER: Let’s talk a little bit more about the importance of dating your spouse. Again, I’ve been married almost 24 years and it’s easy just to become roommates when you’re both so busy and you have kids and everything else and you lose that emotional connection of what’s going on in their life and what’s going on in their mind. Talk to me a little bit about the importance of dating and how you actually do that when you’re two busy spouses with lots of things going on.


JACKIE: Well, the way you do that when you have a busy life, busy marriage, busy family is to be very, very intentional. I think one of the first things that we had to do is just first realize we are not dating. You know, we believed it, we heard it. Everybody talked about “Do you want to have date night with your spouse? Do you want to do it on a regular basis?” and we were big proponents of that. And then, you know, you kind of look in the mirror and you’re like, “Wow! We’re not even doing that.” So, that was step one. It was like, “Man, we have to change this.”


And then, you have to really get intentional and almost desperate. I wrote a post, I think it was on babble.com, it was about being desperate for date night. We were at that situation where we were like, we had so many different things going on, we finally got to the point where we were fed up. We were like, “We can’t continue to allow all these other things to take precedence over us connecting.” That was one; we realized it.


We finally said, “We’re going to get intentional,” and we just got very, very desperate where nothing stopped us. So, we said, “We’re going to date every week.” You may have to change your perspective of what an actual date is. An actual date doesn’t have to be a big fancy meal, going out on the town, and all that. A real date can be just you guys putting the kids to bed early and sitting on the couch and talking. A real date can be going outside on the back porch, locking the kids in the house – I’m speaking to the parents – and just watching the stars. You know, there’s many ways to do it.


We have a perception, I think, of “Oh, man. It’s a date. I’ve got to get dressed up. I’ve got to spend money.” You can wear whatever you wear, whatever you want to wear, and you can spend no money and still go on a date. It’s really about that time alone and that connection.


ROGER: That’s the key there because in almost doing all the trappings of making it something big (1) will cause you not to do it and (2) will get in the way of the two of you actually talking.


JACKIE: Right. So, you’re focused on all that other stuff.


I even wrote something about the top ten – I forgot the title of it but it was something about the top ten – dates to improve your communication and they were all dates that didn’t put you in a position where you were either watching a movie, not talking to each other, you know, in the midst of other people or couple or whatever, not talking to each other but basically where it puts you in a situation where it was just you and your spouse and you had no choice but to talk and we learned that from some marriage mentors of ours who said a majority of their dates were like that. You know, they’re an older couple, I think they’ve been married 33 or some years, but they said the majority of their dates were like that and they were saying how it’s so different now today that you try to fill yourself up with activities that take out the communication which is the centerpiece of a date – that relational piece.


ROGER: Right. I imagine part of this is turning the phones off and actually being present with the person that you’re married to. What a novel concept!


JACKIE: Right. Can you imagine, with all the technology, we have to turn it off? What?


ROGER: I would imagine, the first few dates with all the cell phone turned off, everybody’s twitching a little bit and uncomfortable, but I bet you it gets to be very enjoyable after a while. That’s one thing we see in our practice because we’re dealing with older clientele that are just becoming empty-nesters or are empty-nesters and it’s easy to wake up when all the kids are gone and all the racket’s gone and go, “Well, who the heck are you? You’re my wife? Ugh.” Hopefully, you’re still in alignment with values and goals and all those other things.


JACKIE: Right. I definitely agree. That was something that I think set off the alarms early for us. We were like, “What is going to happen?” because we have three kids and they’re very, very active and into stuff. We were like, “What is going to happen when they actually leave the house and we built our lives around all their activities?” I think that, when that desperation came in, like, “We can’t continue along this path,” but it’s so easy to do.


ROGER: So, probably one of the best investments you can make in your relationship with your spouse is (1) to learn how to be a leader in terms of being a giver and a teacher, and – what’s the E in your GET?


JACKIE: Encourage.


ROGER: Encourager and a teacher. And then, to schedule date nights that are focused on being present with each other and it’s the person that you said vows to before God that you love to make sure that you’re walking hand in hand.


JACKIE: This might apply to your audience, too. You know, not just scheduling those dates but taking it a step further – you can probably elaborate on it – actually creating a line item on your budget. You know, “Okay. We have a budget for our dates,” because this came to me when we had all these activities for our kids and I was like, “Okay. We’re going to have to budget for this because there’s so much and it’s surprising me every year, I need to know what it is.” Same thing with our dates. We’re going to date every week, so why would we not? Our budget doesn’t have to be hundreds of dollars. It can be a ten-dollar date; it can be a five-dollar date; or it could be $50 or $40 for the month and you make it work. I think that’s a great idea as well.


ROGER: I have one couple that is a very good friend of mine that I’ve known for years. He and his wife go to the same restaurant – this is an Atlanta – and watch Sunday night football, and they don’t even really like football but they like to sit there at the bar. They know everybody in the place because they’ve been doing it for years. But it’s the one thing that they do – leave the kids at home, they’re old enough now – and they just sit there and have some wine and talk about the week and prepare. Over time, it becomes that beautiful weekly ritual that just keeps renewing the relationship. Their relationship – I’ve known them for over a decade – it has definitely blossomed relative to where it was.


JACKIE: Yeah, you get excited about that.


ROGER: Yeah, so it’s very cool to see. Now, I know, recently, your parents had their 50th anniversary.




ROGER: So, I know there’s got to be some lessons in there. I’m assuming it was a good fifty. You seem happy and well-adjusted so I’m guessing they were good parents.


JACKIE: I made it and I’m not too crazy.


ROGER: Were there any lessons that you learned from that whole celebration? I think it was a few months back.


JACKIE: Yeah, a couple of months back. It was in July. You know, like any marriage, my parents went through challenges when they were early in their relationship as well. But one of the things that stood out to me is how – you know, you said that couple before that neither one of them really liked football but they go out and watch that football – my parents have grown to like the things that the other person does. You know, fifty years, you can imagine that and one unique thing about it is they met as teenagers so they were the high school sweethearts and all that. They’ve been married for fifty years but they’ve been in a relationship longer than that.


Much like me, my dad, big on sports – basketball, baseball, football – all of that, played sports. My mom is the official sports mom, or I guess sports grandma now, she has grown to the point where now she watches stuff on her own. That was one thing that he really got into her or she got into because of him. I think, on the other hand, my dad probably would have not have attended church at all had it not been for my mom. Now, those are two of the things that they do that I think initiated from the other.


So, one thing I see is just that you grow closer to that person when you spend that time. Even though it may not be your favorite thing, you grow to like it because you enjoy spending that time with that person. That’s what that’s all about. Those basketball games that they attend, they do that because they want to spend time together.


ROGER: Right. That’s an interesting way to look at it and, to look at it from a broader perspective, that’s taking things that possibly could drive you apart. “Oh, they like basketball so they’re off to their basketball game, but I never go with them,” so you spend less time together and you have your separate interests. That flips that on its head and says, “Because that’s important to them, I’ll go,” and then you end up enjoying it because you know how much they enjoy it and you can share that with them. That’s taking something that could really pull you apart and make you closer and more appreciative. That’s part of the giving aspect of your GET acronym.


JACKIE: Yeah, I like it, definitely. Just think about it from the standpoint, when you’re dating and spending time, you get intimate when you do things with someone that you don’t do with everybody else. So, if you’re not spending that time, somebody there they’re relating with. Now, you’re missing out on opportunities to be intimate and possibly the relationship where you think about affairs and things that happen nowadays, some of that comes because they’re spending so much time in a place doing things with a certain person that they don’t do with anybody else or their spouse that now they’re intimate with this person.


ROGER: And that’s the point. It has nothing to do with the physical aspect of it. Typically, it has to do with the emotional needs that are being met because of a perceived lack of intimacy or closeness with your spouse. If you nurture that, that inoculates each other to a good extent to having those temptations rise up.


JACKIE: Correct.


ROGER: Now, I know one thing you’re working on is something called the seven rings of marriage. Is that something that you can talk about?


JACKIE: Definitely. We are really, really excited about that. In the seven rings of marriage – I’ll give you a little background on it – it came from a blog post that I wrote last October 2013. That blog post, the way that came about, I think we were driving home one time and I heard a sermon on the radio and the pastor, kind of in passing, this wasn’t the purpose of his sermon but he mentioned the four rings of marriage and he mentioned a couple of things. I was like, “Oh, that’s very interesting.” That’s all. He mentioned it and went on about a sermon. So, it just kind of was on my mind. Then, actually, a couple of weeks later, about a week or so later, I was writing a post and I thought about that again. I was like, “Man, what could I write about that?” and then I just started thinking back. I related that to different stages in marriage. “What have we gone through in our marriage?” And so, I sat down with my wife. Actually, she helped me with that post. (A little side-note: every post that she’s actually sat down and helped me draft has been one of my most popular posts.)


ROGER: I wonder why!


JACKIE: So, I guess this happened to be one of them.


We sat down and we just kind of started from the beginning of our marriage and thought about what stages our marriage went through and related those metaphorically to a ring. And so, the seven rings of marriage – for those that aren’t familiar with it – are: the first ring is the engagement RING which is kind of obvious; the second ring is the wedding RING; the third ring is the discoveRING where you’re starting to learn about your spouse and them about you; the fourth ring is the perseveRING which, after you discover and you learn stuff you didn’t know, now you’re like, “Oh, well, I’m in it,” now you’ve got to persevere; and then, after that is the restoRING because, after you go through whatever you go through in marriage, you now have to put back the pieces kind of, so that’s what the restore ring is; and then, after you’re able to do that, now you’re at the point where you’re prospeRING, so that’s number six where great marriages, great things, you know how to handle your problems without causing too much of an issue between you; and then, lastly, once you get to that, you’re like, “Okay. I’ve experienced a lot,” this kind of goes back to my GET analogy, you want to give so that’s the mentoRING where you start to mentor other couples – whether that be your children who are growing up and are going to be married one day, whether that be the couple that you connect with, whether that be a full-fledged marriage ministry, whatever it is, whether you’re a counselor – you’re now at the point where you’ve gone through a lot in your marriage and you’re ready to give back. It pretty much, for us, it’s kind of happened naturally. We didn’t set out to do this at all.


ROGER: That’s awesome. Basically, those seven rings complete one big circle to move on to the next generation.


JACKIE: Yeah. You know, people get stuck in their marriage. Even if you don’t start out at the engagement RING, if you come in at like, “Here’s where I am today. We’re at the perseveRING, we’re really going through in our marriage,” well, that right there, the point of what we’re doing with the seven rings is to help people get unstuck in their marriage and to go from that to the next stage and hopefully continue to progress.


Now, can you go back to perseveRING if something comes up in your life, in your marriage? Yes, you can. But now you should have the tools to continue going forward.


ROGER: I love that timeline because it gives people perspective so, when they are entering that perseveRING, number four I think, they realize that this is natural. It’s not just me that’s having problems in my marriage or having issues with my spouse. This is a natural progression and there is a recoveRING and a prospeRING and a mentoRING.


A lot of times, we lack the perspective and we think, “Well, this sucks, I’m getting out,” and not realizing that that’s just part of it, and it actually makes you stronger.


JACKIE: Yeah, because you think, “This is it. This is what it’s going to be. There’s nothing else.” But, when you see where you’ve come from and then you can see ahead, “Okay. This is next. If I can just continue on and find out how to get to this next phase in our marriage,” then you can keep going. That’s where it was with us. We were like, “Man, you’re in this box,” you feel like and you don’t think anybody else can relate or anybody else has gone through. But what we found out and I think why the post when we wrote it was so popular is that so many other marriages could relate. There were so many people that, when I wrote that post, they looked at it and it’s like, “This is where we are right now. We’re wearing this ring. We’re wearing that ring.” So, I knew right then that this was something special that many different couples could relate to.


ROGER: Now, you have a Family Leadership Manifesto. You have a date night ebook that you’re coming out with – and maybe out by the time we talk about this. And then, you’re working on a lot of content around these seven rings of marriage. Where can people find all these things?


JACKIE: You can go to my site, jackiebledsoe.com, and all of this will be there. But, if you want to go specifically go anything, you can go to jackiebledsoe.com/7rings, jackiebledsoe.com/datenight, or you can go to jackiebledsoe.com/familyleadermanifesto. Now, probably, what I’ll do by the time this airs, I’ll put up a page, just one page that is specifically for your listeners and they can go right there and I’ll have a list of all the different links and all the different resources so that they can get whatever they need right now.


And I want to add about the seven rings of marriage, what we’re doing with it now from that blog post – it didn’t just end there – we are now in the process of interviewing couples for a web show. So, right now, we’ve got a list. We’ve interviewed a few already and we’re interviewing couples so we can get their stories – how does their marriage line up with the seven rings of marriage. The first season, what we’re calling this, is couples who have been married for a while and actually are doing similar to what we’re doing and helping other couples with their marriages. Then, after that, we’re going to put together a full-fledged marriage course, courses probably, centered around the seven rings of marriage. And then, after we do all that – the research and the interviewing all these different couples – we’re going to put it in a book format so that people can buy it, read it on their Kindle, get a hard copy, traditional published book is what we’re aiming to do, and hopefully it’s a blessing to a lot of marriages and helps, like I said, them to get unstuck and find out how you get that lasting and fulfilling marriage that we all hope for when we’re putting on that engagement ring.


ROGER: Awesome. This is great information, Jackie. I’ll have links to all the resources you talked about on the show notes when we post this. I want to thank you so much for joining me today. This is great stuff.


JACKIE: My pleasure. Thank you for having me.


I always love talking to Jackie. He is just a quality guy. If you want to find links to Jackie’s materials, I’ll have those in the show notes along with the table that I mentioned in the Investment Corner.


If you have any questions about retirement planning or investment planning for retirement, go to rogerwhitney.com and click on You Ask, I ANSWER. You ask a question there, I promise I’ll respond personally and possibly answer that question on the show here. More than likely, if you have a question or a fear or a worry that you’re struggling with, there’s probably thousands of other people that are dealing with the same issue. So, together, we can all work to plan well and invest wisely.


Until next week, this is Roger Whitney ,the Retirement Answer Man.


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