T Nation

Having A GREAT Life?


Over the past year I have made a pretty dramatic transformation of my body, my health and my fitness. It has required a significant amount of my mental and physical energy and many other aspects of my life have been on "cruise control" and just chugging along. At this point, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what it takes to stay healthy and strong and can start putting more energy into other areas of my life.

I have been married for 9 years and have 2 little boys (4 & 1). I feel that our relationship has evolved and changed many times in the 17 years we've been together (high school sweethearts). The last few years have been rougher with the stress of 2 miserable pregnancies and caring for infants and toddlers. (we both agree no more kids) We seem to be in the middle of a change right now and have been doing a lot of talking lately about getting closer again. My husband is getting more interested in working out and eating right and wants to share that with me (which is awesome). We also have been working more on revamping our sex life (blush). We want to do more about getting our finances in better order and planning for the future. I would like to have God more in our lives (non-practicing Catholics), but don't know what to do about that. We love our boys and want to be great parents and have fun as a family.

Basically, we don't want to continue to keep going through the motions and want to revamp our lives. My husband works a lot of hours so that I can be a stay-home mom. We try to give each other space and time to do things we each enjoy, but the space has gotten a little too wide. He asked me about my goals for the future, and I didn't have a ready answer - this is not a good thing. We are continuing to think and talk and work on our relationship with each other and with the kids. There are a lot of great people here and I thought it would be interesting to hear some people's thoughts about:

  • Having a really strong marriage
  • Being great parents
  • Getting a good financial plan together
  • Having God in your life
  • Combining training and fitness with a busy life
  • Putting it ALL together

I would especially love to hear from Dan John, TC and Iron John. I imagine Throttle must have some good advice on a healthy married sex life. Just looking for thoughts, tips, book recommendations, discussion, whatever. Thanks!


Sounds like you're already on your way. My wife and I are going thru something similar, our refomulation doesn't sound as fun as yours, but it will get better. I'm not sure I have anything else to add to your plan. Just keep striving and remember why you got together in the first place and try to stay in love with each other, not just love each other.



Hi Jilly-how are those deadlift going? I like your candid post here. I can give you a guys perspective. As you may recall-I am a 30 something Massachusetts boy-married for 10 years, work in law enforcement, have 3 kids-2 year old twins and a 4 year old-who thankfully are all healthy and happy. I work 50 hours per week and wife hasn't work since we had the first-she has a degree and used to pull in 60 k-but now we live on my salary-100k plus.

We relocated from so calif to texas last year to cash in on 400k in equity we had in a home fro 8 years in so calif. Money is fine-I can retire in 10 years and wife can work if she wants when kids are in school. We escaped the so calif rat race and it was better for us. I know homes in mass are very high as well-any chance of you guys relocating? Weather effects peoples moods/outlook etc-I lived in mass til I was 23 and to this day when I visit or talk to some from the NE all they talk about is weather-it really controls you and then what you will have to pay for heating oil this year-another mortgage payment. If I were you two I would relocate-but if that is not an option-if you can and your husband and you are handy-buy another house and fix it up and rent it-you will not lose money in mass with that.

As for the sex issue-you came to the right place! We had a great adventurous sex life-then kids came-and just a we got back into the swing of things-figuratively not literally-although she is bi...twins came along-and they were high risk-so that was a huge deterrent to intimacy-no time/energy etc....now fast forward two years-things are really great-we have time/energy and are enjoying things between us. With me being busy-1 thing I do is cut and paste things I find interesting/stimulating -from here and other online sources-she is super busy from home-but she gets a long email or two per day from me-work permitting of course. We communicate that way often-so at the end of the day we talk and laugh and know what was on the other's mind at times during the day. Text messages are cool too-just take a few minutes to say hey-you are in my thoughts.

Watch comedy together-Chris Rcck especially...feed me, fuck me, forget about me-ie talk to your sisters/freinds etc-about girlie things. I know Sabrina quoted Chris Rock as well...Guys your lady is far nastier than you ever thought...tell your guy to write you-if he can't talk it out well-what he wants from you and what he would like to try-give him oppurtunities to just tell you what he wants. Never make him feel second best-like you didn't write him anything or you didn't prep for some sex with a lil vamping-wear something hot to bed-grab him for a quick BJ or whatever while the kids watch Dora the explorer etc. Wives..if you are nawty for your hubby-he will love it-guaranteed.

As for your religious question-I was raised cathloic but I see way too much hypocrisy in religion-so I can't discuss that. I would never ask a priest or a nun a marriage question-that would be like asking a homeless person financial advice-IMO.

You communicate great on here Jilly-I bet you will have no problem doing it in person. Congrats on your personal transformation!


I doubt you'll get Iron John and Dan John to post in the same thread...those guys HATE eachother.


I can comment on a couple. When it comes to financial plan - hire a professional. One highly recommended. This will keep you and your husband from fighting about money, because you are putting it into someone else's hands. This I think alleviates a lot of marital issues (I'm a former financial advisor btw)

Secondly, to be able to train and have a family, you need to include EVERYONE in on the act. This will get easier as the rugrats get older, but there's always something you can do together. This translates into being a good parent, because you will insure a kid's health and well being this way.

The others are likely too individual to everyone to really fit YOU and YOUR life. Except make you you and the hubbie get alone time together. It's hard to get down and dirty if someone smells like poopie diaper. :slightly_smiling:


Very interesting post. I also believe that a well balanced life is more fulfilling than excellence in any one area. However, I also feel that improving other areas of your life will indirectly benefit your current area of focus (training, physical development).

You've already identified the areas that you would like to improve and seemed to have made a commitment to yourself to make this happen. Step one complete!

Next, start to learn more about these areas. Read some articles and look for book recommendations. Talk to people who you feel are successful in these areas.

Develop a plan with long-term and short-term goals for each area of your life that you are looking to improve. This does not need to be overly complicated. A very simple plan for each area should work fine. Your plans are dynamic and change as you change.

OK...by now this advice probably seems very familiar. It is most likely the same steps you took to make your physical transformation. There is a method to success and you have already found the version that works for you. Just take your method and apply it to any area of your life you want to improve. This will take persistence and patients, but I have no doubt you will have a GREAT life.

Best of luck,


Hi Jilly,

My life is a lot like yours. Wife & I have been together for 13 yrs and we have a 4 yr old boy. We do pretty well in the finance dept. We save about 8 grand a year in addition to about 12 grand saved in retirement and education accounts. This just on my 70 grand salary. We also have a very nice home. We do it by having a budget, never buying new cars and living in an affordable region with a short commute.

I don't think you shoud hire a financial advisor. You and your husband are smart. You can figure it out and that would just be one more expense. The car thing; just buy below book Toyotas or Hondas. My car is a '92 Corolla I got for 2,500. It looks nice and never breaks down. I've had it 8 years. My wife drives a '98 Sienna Van. It looks brand new, has 90k miles and cost us 8,600.

I take care of the exercise by getting up at 4:30 am. My wife hasn't been working out though. The sex.... if you figure that out, let me know. Now that our little boy stopped napping it's gotten really tough. He stays up til 10 or 11. I'm in bed between 9 & 10....


Kelly all good valid points. As for your son being up to 10 or 11-that is where you take him to bed at 8 and read him a story and give him some attention-20 minutes or so-then you tell him-son you go to bed now in your room. It is hard the first week-they scream and cry for up to an hour-then they get it-you have set a limit and that's it. Kids need sleep and order-not the bed time habits of a teen. Do not let your wife and you disagree on this issue-stand your ground and demand he goes to bed by 8. Cut off all t.v. by 7-too much tv revs them up at night and is not good for them as we all know.



I read your post twice. I think maybe you are dealing with a problem or some doubt. I hope I am wrong. I often am.

I have been married for a long time and all of those years have been happy for me and Mrs. Hedo.

The secret for us is communications. No secrets, no inhibitions, nothing held back. Those kids are job one. They have to come first. They will get older and more self sufficient, no matter what you do. just be patient. Eventually they are gone and you miss them.

Don't worry about money. The older you get the more you will have as long as you or your husband work hard and stay with it.

As to God, that's a tough one. God found me when I was about 40. I didn't ask for him to do it, wasn't troubled about anything. Nobody sinned more then me and I was unapologetic about it...then it just hits you. To me it was about forgiveness rather then judgement. For you, maybe something different. It will happen on his terms, when your ready, when you least expect it.

Take care, the journey is worth it.


Jilly, my advice is about having God in your life.

Read the Bible. Just a chapter a night. And pray for guidance, ask Him to help you understand it. Give it some time and you'll find your answer.

I find that trusting in God helps everything else fall into place.


My dear Jill -

First, forgive me if I offend in this post. That is not my intention at all. For those of you who are not Jill, I don't plan on "defending" my positions here, so please don't ask me to. I'm responding to my friend, as she has asked me to, and publically, as she has privately asked me to do so.

Sorry for the length of this epistle.

Okay, Jill, since you asked.

To start with, I admire you very much. Our friendship has really grown in the last few months, and both Gourmet Girl and I (beauty & the beast) have appreciated your friendship. (even though you beat me in the contest, you stink!)

After having recently reached several goals successfully, your "what should I do now?" feeling is not uncommon. It is especially common, for example, among doctoral student when they graduate. It gets worse if they have to choose from several good offers (I know, cry me a river...), but it is real, and can be confusing. That seems to me to be where you are. Too many good, but vague, options. It is, however, a normal reaction, and that is a good thing. That means it has a normal fix.

Also, wanting God in your life, and reviewing what you want in your love life, these are related actually, but I won't digress here. Suffice to say that they affect each other because they are deeply personal, and make us frighteningly vulnerable. In both cases, looking foolish is our greatest fear. (Hence, pornography - it's emotionally not risky for the man who is too weak to face his own weakness.)

Okay, now a warning. Now, don't get nervous. You want God in your life. This is good. You know what you want. It is just that when someone leaves/strays from the home of their previous religious experience, there is a reason for this, after all. They have a tendency to want to "pick up" where they think they left off.

Bad mistake. The very things which did not attract you then, did not keep you coming, or repelled you will simply do it again. You will have the same experience, only heightened with much more expectation, and much more disappointment. Best to go somewhere for the right reason, not as a default.

Don't just default. That is what I'm saying. What is the right reason? Right now, I don't know. You may know, you may not. My advice is to do some Q&A with someone you can really trust in the matter, who likely knows themselves well, and will listen to you, rather than waiting for you to stop talking so they can begin. Start there.

In other words, someone you know won't give you a shpiel, just 'cause they learned it on t.v. or at Sunday school. Seek wisdom, and don't be afraid of what you may find. It's okay to pray for Truth. It's a funny thing about prayer, you may get what you ask for, so be careful there.

You may or may not believe me here, but once the center of your life is working, everything falls to its proper place and level in short order and with relative ease.

Love life, family life, social life, interior life, intellectual life; all where they should be. Too easy you say? Aren't Charles Staley and Dan John always talking about the simplicity of training - the imperfect program you do is superior to the perfect program you don't do, take something heavy and lift it over your head, lift-eat-rest-repeat, etc...

This is where I am expert - interior life, spiritual life, family life; in order to thrive, these requires training. Most people just refuse to believe it, because they won't actually do it. On to your other points...

Being great parents, all it requires is love, consistency(!) and sacrifice, in that order(as if that's not enough?). You are already doing this. Keep it up.

Having a strong marriage does NOT simply mean loving alot. It means being able to weather terrible misfortune and adversity with love and joy in each other. Get used to watching each other's back - literally, emotionally, spiritually. "Got your back," is a way of life for married lovers.

Financial plan? Ask someone whose specialty is financial planning. Seriously, I'm not the expert here, and I don't like posing as one in something I am not expert in (I consider it a form of "bearing false witness" and that is, after all, a sin). But it is a matter of planning (of course) and putting your plan into action. Have a "Plan B" and at the end of every year, at least, review your "Plan A" and see if it's working.

Finally, doing it all without having a stroke (my paraphrase of your post). Remember, life is what happens while you are making other plans. Life does get in the way of training at times, but your life is not a disconnected series of unrelated events - it is one, organic whole.

I can only speak as a Christian man, husband, father, pastor, and priest, and when I reach the limits of my meager education, limited experience, and a very small life, and I realize I don't know what is coming next, and I look up with hope and wonder, and pray.

Then I get back to work, because that is what we do. That is the way of Christ - few words, much action.

Whatever direction your life takes you in, it's your life. You are the heroine of this movie. Your adventures, your struggles, your catastrophes, your triumphs - you will decide what these all mean. Everyone has them, but not everyone is transformed by them. Please remember, people don't mellow with age, they harden in their sin. Look into your own heart here.

You have labored much, and with good results. You are still in the process of tranfiguration. Not of the circumstances and settings of your life - you.

What do you want to change into?

Answer that question.

Hey, take your time. It's an important question. You'll know when you have the answer. You've become a good friend, Jill.

I'd love to see the end of this movie.

Love, your friend,


Two things stand out to me, in this post. ( Which is GREAT by the way )

1st is this. And this is mostly tongue in cheek, I hope you know.........

I checked dictionary.com for shpiel, because I had never seen the word in print before, and it's actually spelled "spiel". The pronunciation indicated that it does sound more like "shpiel'. :slight_smile:

That's one of the most profound things I have ever heard. That's exactly what we do.


Absolutely beautifully written, IJ.


3 toed

I stand corrected!

(I'm an English major, and not familiar with Yiddish) Apologies to all.

Now, where is that Yiddish spell checker?


Iron John, that was an awesome post!


That is an awesome post IJ. Jilly, both you and your husband need to read "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey. I am almost done reading this book, and it has definently changed my perspective on life, organization, and how I approach things. After reading this book, and setting goals for yourself, it is easier to accomplish things, and cross stuff off your list that you did. It is rewarding in the sense that you are eliminating the 800lb gorilla off your back. It's bad, because the 800lb gorilla made GPP simple:)

As for finances, yes, definently make a budget. Once you do this, and can map out expenses and extra money, seek a financial planner. Since your boys are young, you might want to start a 523 plan for college for them, and contribute to it as you can. Check out the "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" series by Robert Kiyosaki.

It's late, and I just lost my train of thought, so i'll stop here. -Starkdog


No you don't! spiel is splt with an SH not an S. Yiddish is using the Hebrew alfabet, not Latin. Those are two different letters.

Never mind that. I liked your answer to Jillybop, too. If I were to add a piece of advice it would be to always give each other and even more importantly yourselves, a break. I am hitting 50 soon, happily married with three teenagers. It is very easy to think that you should have done more, or better, or leaner, or richer, or, or, or...

Do you best for each other and the kids, accept your foibles and laugh at yourselves now and then. That'll do



I stand recorrected!


Best post ever.

I think I read somewhere that communication is 50 - 70% of any good relationship. If you cant talk, the relationship dies. Simple as that.



First off it sounds like you have the right mind set and perspective on things. Given this I am sure that you will make it through this life, and find a solution to your current dilemmas.

Second off IJ's post was dead on.

My only possible tidbit that may help you along is to pick up a copy of the book ?Mere Christianity? by C.S. Lewis. Obliviously this book will help with the God part, however that is the key log in the jam.

I pray for the best for your family and yourself.