Winning Her Heart Before He Does

Thoughts following our daddy-daughter Valentines date

My daughter is now a junior in high school and has a boyfriend. With a serious sense of panic and feeling that I’m rapidly running out of time, I’m determined to step up my game. I’m focused on winning her heart before he does.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to prevent or disrupt my daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend. I’ve had and continue to have the necessary conversations with this fine young man. I’ve completed the thorough background checks and character assessments mandatory before a relationship with my daughter will begin. He has passed those assessments but knows he will continue to be monitored.

While I have determined allowing such a relationship with my daughter is appropriate, it doesn’t mean I have to make it easy on him. He has competition for her heart – very serious competition. If he perseveres against this competition, I know with certainty he will one day make the unwavering decision of commitment to my daughter necessary for a happy and satisfying marriage. If he buckles to the pressure of competition, he isn’t good enough for her.

Furthermore, by working so hard to win her heart, my daughter will recognize the character and love she deserves. She will have incredibly high standards for any boy in her life because I’ve set the bar so high.

So how will I win her heart? I’ve been doing these things all her life, but with her teenage years ticking by so rapidly, I’m intensifying my game. Let me share with you four ways I’ll work to win her heart.

106 – Resolving Conflict Like An Amateur

I haven’t even reached rookie status

Welcome to episode 106 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss resolving conflict in marriage. More specifically I’ll use my own recent example to explain what to avoid when attempting to resolve conflict.

Conflict in marriage is inevitable. Couples may attempt to abide by an ill-explained version of “don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26)

Arguing until wee hours of the morning is not the way to resolve conflict. Believe me! It isn’t the answer.

In today’s podcast, I’ll share our recent experience with resolving conflict. My hope and prayer is that you will learn from my mistakes.

Also in this episode – email question
From: Anonymous

How should someone use tough love with their spouse?

Enjoy the podcast.

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The Family Legacy Journal

Do you want more for your family, but just can’t seem

to escape the whirlwind of life to work on those relationships?

Most families are caught up in a whirlwind of busyness that leaves them feeling disconnected. Marriages are stuck in unhappiness and dissatisfaction, struggling with meaningful communication and real intimacy. Parents feel like their children are aimlessly wandering away from the family values as their relationship with them becomes relegated to being their cook and maid. Without a method to slow the pace of life, families drift apart.

With twenty-three years of marriage and three teenagers, Michael Tanner experienced the same whirlwind. In all this experience, he’s discovered only one method to help him build thriving relationships within his family. The best part? It fits easily into our busy schedules.

The Family Legacy Journal equips parents to reconnect with their family in just ten minutes of journaling each day. Through the power of gratitude, reflection, and affirmation, parents are empowered to resist the whirlwind and establish thriving family relationships. Based on timeless biblical wisdom and powerful psychological science. The Family Legacy Journal establishes a personal attitude of gratitude, eliminates negativity, improves family relationships through self-reflection, encourages parents to persevere through the power of affirmation, and builds thriving family relationships that leave a lasting legacy.

All in just ten minutes each day!

Yes, I want a journal


7 Marriage Habits to Fake

Fake it until you make it

You’ve heard the statement, “fake it until you make it.” While most often used to incite courage or confidence related to things like public speaking or singing, this aphorism also applies to marriage. To enjoy a happy marriage, you may need to begin with faking these seven marriage habits.

The philosophy behind the aphorism is by faking a desired behavior, one will gain the confidence and capability to recognize the desired reality in their life. People who fear public speaking fake it by practicing in front of the mirror or family. By acting like a public speaker the person gains the confidence and experience needed to be a real public speaker.

Most married couples have a desired level of satisfaction or happiness of which they feel the marriage falls short. There are specific and simple activities that will increase the happiness and satisfaction in any marriage. The trouble is we don’t usually feel like, want to, or believe in these simple activities. When faced with this dilemma, we must fake it until we make it.

Let’s look at a few marriage habits that will certainly increase the happiness and satisfaction in your marriage. If you don’t feel like keeping these habits, that’s okay. If you don’t want to keep these habits, that’s okay. Maybe you don’t believe these habits will improve your marriage, that’s okay. Do them anyway. Fake it for now. When you see the results, your desires and beliefs will change and you will make it to the marriage happiness you desire.

105 – Adoption

Can I love another’s child?

Welcome to episode 105 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss my experiences with adoption and how they align with the real definition of love.

Adoption has impacted my life in multiple ways. In this podcast episode, I’d like to share with you our story of adopting a child. How we arrived at the decision to adopt. Answers to the difficult questions we were asking ourselves. And what finally convinced me to move forward with adoption.

Check out my recent blog article and podcast episode regarding the definition of love. They will certainly give you more background about our life-changing decision of adoption.

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The Family Legacy Journal
Learn more about the journal









How To Make Your Wife Happy

If it’s even possible

I recently had a wife say to me in a Marriage Mentoring session, “he just doesn’t make me happy anymore.” Happiness seems to be a common challenge for married couples, especially those several years into the marriage and with children. Most marriages seem to be stuck in unhappiness.

Having made the statement in her husband’s presence, I asked her, “what is it he could do the make you happy.” As she took a quick glance at her husband, I fully expected her to rattle off a list of household chores he could do for her. I think her response surprised her husband as much as it did me.

“Well, I really don’t know. He already does so much for us.” She isn’t married to a deadbeat husband that doesn’t care for her or their family. He is attentive to her needs in their marriage and even knows her love language. No matter how hard he tries though, he can’t make her happy. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t tell him what to do that will make her happy.

As we drilled further into her unhappiness, it became clear she was struggling with an identity challenge rather than a happiness challenge. Over the years of their marriage and the birth of their children, she had shifted her own understanding of her identity to wife and mother.

The rigors of being a working mom of growing boys and wife were understandably wearing her down. The responsibilities of mom and wife were so pressure-filled they were no longer fun. Without any type of meaningful break from her family responsibilities, she grew tired, frustrated, and even resentful toward her identity as mom and wife.

Because she wasn’t willing to abandon her family and her identity was so tied up in being a mom and wife, she saw no hope of being happy any time soon. I commended her commitment to her family and then mentored them both with a little “here’s what I would do” advice.

Give her a break

I tried to make it real clear that he couldn’t make his wife happy. He seemed equally concerned and relieved. Relieved that her unhappiness wasn’t his fault and concerned that he could fix it as so many husbands want to do.

His only obligation to help his wife be happy was to afford her the time needed to find her own identity. I acknowledged the fact he works long hours but was firm that his commitment to his wife and marriage required he go the extra mile to give her time away from her family responsibilities. Without harboring any ill feelings or negative attitude, he was to give her the freedom to reflect on her identity.

Then I turned to her to express how important it is she find her real identity.

Finding true identity

I first explained that her roles as mom and wife were very important, but they couldn’t be her identity. I could see the realization dawn on her face when I said, “if your identity and happiness is so tied up in your family, what would happen if they all died in a car crash tomorrow? Does that mean you could never be happy again?”

Knowing this couple are both Christians and believers in Christ, I was able to point her in the right direction of finding her true identity. She will find her true identity and eternal happiness in being a child of God.

In all honesty, for those that don’t believe in the God of the Bible, I don’t really have an answer as to where to find your identity and happiness. Your identity can’t be tied to your career, because you may one day lose that career. It can’t be tied to your gender, because that is simply a random selection of biology. And so I ask…

If you can’t find your identity in God, where do you find your identity? I’m sincerely interested to know – no judgment, just curiosity. Let me know in the comments below.

104 – Love is Commitment, Not Chemistry

Love also isn’t emotions or feelings

Welcome to episode 104 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss the real meaning of love.

I recently wrote a blog article entitled “Love in Killing Marriage” that has garnered significant responses. Some respondents have agreed with my definition of love, while others vehemently disagree with me.

Enjoy this episode of “The Real Family Podcast” and let me know in comments if you agree or disagree with my definition of love.

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Jerry Maguire Was Wrong, Your Spouse Can’t Complete You

Jerry Maguire: a great sports agency, a bad marriage counselor

Jerry Maguire won the girl in the end, but he also set her up for failure. His statement made for great romantic theatre, but it was filled with red flags that should have made Dorothy run like a gazelle from a lion.

You recall the scene near the end of the movie, right? Jerry is at the end of his rope after all the mistakes he made with his ill-prepared career moves and immature relationship antics. Jerry bursts into Dorothy’s house during one of her women support group sessions to proclaim his love for her.

From across the room and in front of all Dorothy’s lady friends, Jerry whispers, “I love you. You complete me.”

Wee-ooo-eee! Whoop, whoop, whoop! Woo-woo-woo! (Siren sounds)

Red flag! Danger, Will Robin, danger!

Run! Dorothy, run!

Dorothy didn’t exactly run away. In fact, she did just the opposite. She basically ran into Jerry’s arms and the two supposedly lived happily ever after. It makes for a great movie script, but it isn’t reality.

103 – My Personal Focus in 2018

What’s your focus for 2018?

Welcome to episode 103 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss the New Year and my personal focus for 2018.

Some refer to it as their annual theme or word of the year. Others call it a New Year’s resolution. Me? I’m just calling it my 2018 focus.

In today’s podcast, I’ll share with you the focus I’ve chosen for 2018. I’ll explain the details of my focus and why I’ve selected it.

What is your focus for 2018?

Also in this episode – email question
From: Cassie

You claim to be a Christian and I believe you are sincere in those claims. Though you don’t always mention the Bible references, I recognize much of your advice to be from the Bible. Why do you insist on not mentioning the Bible and even seemingly apologizing when you do mention the Bible?

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Books mentioned in today’s podcast:



102 – Finding Good Marriage Advice

5 places to find good marriage advice

Welcome to episode 102 of the REAL Family Podcast. This podcast offers real help and hope for every family. In today’s episode, we will discuss appropriate ways to find good marriage advice.

We talked in last week’s podcast about the places to avoid when seeking marriage advice. In this podcast episode, we will explore five wonderful sources of marriage advice. Whether your marriage is on life support or you just need a small adjustment, these marriage advice resources are reliable and effective.

Also in this episode – email question
From: multiple readers and listeners

Michael, are you a certified counselor?

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Love is Killing Marriage

We must change the definition of love to save our families

Webster and all the other dictionaries have it wrong. Furthermore, the word is incorrectly used far too often. You may think you know what love is, but I hope to change your definition with this article.

I consider myself a word nerd. I believe words having meanings and we should use our words according to their meaning. At times, my southern accent doesn’t allow me to pronounce words correctly, but I can at least use them according to their definition. That is with the exception of the word love.

I completely disagree with the dictionary definition. I’m so passionate about my disagreement with the dictionary that I’ve developed a full speech explaining the real definition that I give at marriage conferences. The dictionary definition and my definition are such polar opposites that I have to ask questions like; “could this misunderstanding of love be damaging marriages and families?”

Let me first start with the various definitions and forms according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. In each definition variant, I’ll make the case for why it’s wrong. Finally, I’ll give you my concise and accurate definition and, trust me, love in your marriage and family will all make sense when you read it.

First, let’s examine the noun form of the word…