Inside His Head: How do I know if he’s the right guy to marry?

insidehishead, 500

Welcome back to Motherlode’s once-a-month feature, “Inside His Head” which is written by an anonymous panel of husbands. If you’ve got a question for our outspoken guys, just send it to and it may be featured in an upcoming installment. Now on to this month’s question from a future fiancee:

Q: I’m not married yet, but I’m in a relationship that’s getting more serious. I know there are things I can’t imagine that we might fight about. As long-time married guys (I assume) what would you say are the top five questions I should ask a prospective husband before committing?


#1. Do you want to have kids?

Make sure you see eye to eye on this. Kids might not even be on your radar right now, but you still ought to discuss it. When only one side wants a child it can put an unbearable strain on the relationship and I’ve known couples to divorce on this issue alone. There are a million excuses to have kids or not have them but it’s prudent to make sure those excuses, pro or con, jive with your husband to be.

#2. How will our bills get paid?

I probably don’t need to mention how stressful finances can be. Got college loan bills? Both of you? Credit card bills? It doesn’t get less stressful when there are two of you. Does he have a plan for how you will live and plan for your future? What happens when the unexpected (see #1) happens? If you don’t control your money it will assuredly control you and rarely for the better.

#3. What do you expect of me?

Does he want you to be his mother or a working mother? Does it jive with what you want to do and how you see yourself? It’s wise to be honest about your expectations of each other. Everyone has different values and they can have profound ramifications. Being a housewife is fine, but, like anything, it’s only fine if that’s what you want too. Nothing builds resentment like someone feeling they’re forced to do things they don’t like.

#4. Where do think we’ll be in 10 years?

There’s a saying that goes something like: if you don’t have a plan go anywhere, you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Planning your future gives you a fighting chance of getting there. While it’s doubtful you’ll have a perfect crystal ball, striving for mutual goals strengthens relationships and gives you milestones to celebrate along the way. Waiting for life to happen to you can set your relationship adrift, often making you both wonder what you’re doing.

#5. Do you hate my parents?

The nagging mother in-law might be one of the biggest stereotypes of all time, but extended families are no laughing matter. Everyone has one obnoxious relative, but if he feels that way about all of them, odds are good there are a lot of things about you he doesn’t like, too. People can agree to disagree, but if Thanksgiving = war then maybe there are some deeper issues needing examination.

john.jpgMAVERICK: Well, you say this guy is possibly “the one” so I assume you knowbasic stuff about him, that there are no conflicts on religion, that he has some sort of job you approve of and that he doesn’t clip his toenails in bed. Here are a few basic questions you can ask him and ask yourself to get an idea if you’re on the same page:

One pretty practical thing you need to know is if there are geographic issues with this guy. Is he tied to one place because of his family, or his career or his lifestyle? If you hope to live in different locales, simply to see the country, or to be adventurous, or to further your career or education it  will be a huge stress factor if you marry somebody who wants/needs to stay put. The reverse is also true. If you are still attached to your family by an umbilical cord stretching no more than 200 miles and he intends to someday, in the next 20 years or so, move beyond that radius you need to take that under serious consideration.

You also need to know his money situation. Often this involves just opening your eyes. If you both have similar incomes, and you’re barely making it yourself, and for your courtship period he’s been footing most of the bills (be honest, has he?) chances are he’s in debt. Men assume you pay attention to this sort of thing. Most women don’t. Ask him about his money situation, and if he’s in hock, his plans for getting out of it. If the hole he’s dug is substantially deeper because of his relationship with you, and you bristle concerning pitching in and helping to fill it back in once you’re married, you don’t really love him or you’re a spoiled brat or both — move on for his sake and yours.

Ask him in detail about kids. At this point you should know if he’s open to the idea and how many. Folks do change their minds on this issue but you should have a working baseline of his feelings on children before you tie the knot. If you intend to stay home with the kids,  make that clear and get his feelings on it and how you’ll make that happen, same thing if you intend to work outside the home full or part time. If you intend for him to stay home with the kids, you better kick that around too. Don’t be worried if he’s not really “kid friendly” when dealing with the little monsters right now. He’ll feel differently about his own when they arrive.

Ask him, in a worse case scenario, if he’d be willing to work two or even three jobs to keep a roof over your head and the heads of any children you might  have. Watch his reaction. Does he say yes? Is he sincere? If you can’t read him by now he’s likely not really “the one.” His willingness to sacrifice for  you and your future family is a good indication  of his commitment to you. Now, ask yourself the same question. Would you do the same thing for him and your kids?

Really, I mean it. Would you work two or three crappy jobs you hate just to put food on the table and pay the light bill? If you won’t do the same for him, do yourselves a favor and walk  — he shouldn’t be the only one willing to make extreme sacrifices.

See if he plans to substantially change after you get married. You are not asking will he continue to grow and mature and evolve as a human being and a man. Let’s hope he will. Instead, see if he intends to shift who he is, really change his core nature. Now, ask yourself if you want him to.

Women often claim to love key elements about the man they intend to marry that become huge stumbling blocks once they’ve said “I do.” Women love that he’s gregarious and has deep, close bonds with his friends  — but they don’t expect him to spend any reasonable amount of time with his pals after he gets married. They love that he’s wild and free but expect him home 25 minutes after work once the vows are said, and he better sell that motorcycle ASAP. They love that he’s a bohemian free spirit with the soul of an artist and poet, but he better buckle down and get a real job so you can afford a mortgage and insurance. Bottom line, if you want him to grow up a bit, fine, but if you really want or need to “fix” him, well, you know the answer to that question, and if you don’t, well I sure hope the poor sap gets away.

jon.jpgJON: There are a myriad of questions you can ask your loved one.  Taking time to get to know each other will only bring you closer.My wife and I bought a workbook that guided us through discussions on a wide variety of topics.

Now the internet provides a wide variety of lists of such questions or you can simply each write your own list.  These can range from “where would you like to live and why?”, “if you wrote a book, what would it be about?”, or “what is the strangest thing you’ve done?” to much more serious topics.

Here are five topics my wife and I have visited multiple times:

  1. Money – How important is it to you and what does it represent? I see it as access to a good time my wife sees it as security.
  2. Children – Do you both want them? How many? When?Discipline? Education? Role of church?
  3. Relationship with In-Laws – How important is this to each of you?Will children change the equation? Where will holidays be spent?
  4. Fidelity – To me this includes more than just not cheating. You can only have one number one thing in your life.Is it work? Friends? Your spouse? A hobby?
  5. Intimacy – What makes you feel loved?How do you show love to others? What do you need/want?

Other topics could include chores/work around the home, how days off should be spent, diet and exercise, and religious beliefs. 

Perhaps you and he could create a list of topics, rank them from most to least important and explain to each other why you put things where you did.

As you can see there are tons of questions you can ask and many ways to ask them.  The important part is to begin to establish open and honest dialogue, regardless of the topic.  This will be critical as your relationship moves forward.

Giveaway: $1,000 Shopping Spree at James + James!

The holidays are almost here and that means lots of us will be hosting friends, family and assorted guests.

So wouldn’t it be great if you had a brand new table — one that’s hand-crafted and completely unique — for everyone to gather around? Can’t you just picture your turkey, ham, stuffing and all the trimmings on a table like this one from James + James?

james table

Or maybe you’d rather use your 1,000 James + James bucks toward a table like this (read to the bottom of this post for how to enter the giveaway):

james table trestle

That’s right, one lucky mama will win a $1,000 shopping spree to James + James toward any furniture purchase! They have tables, chairs, hutches, benches, nightstands, bookshelves, end tables, beds, head boards and coffee tables to choose from.

Each piece of furniture is hand-crafted with quality (real!) wood and can be custom sized. They even have a variety of finishes to choose from. James + James has seriously become famous in just a few years for their quality and diversity. The furniture is made from solid wood that is distressed and has a reclaimed look.

We love this hutch:

james hutch

And isn’t this platform bed just beautiful:

james platform bed

james logoHOW TO ENTER: If you’d love to win this $1,000 shopping spree to James + James, click on the words “post a comment” below. Tell us which piece of furniture you would choose if you won. Here’s a link to all the gorgeous James + James options.

Click here to see the gallery of pics from satisfied customers.

INCREASE YOUR ODDS OF WINNING: If you’d like to increase your odds of winning the James + James bucks, just email friends and family about the giveaway and CC us so we’ll be sure to give you credit. We’ll give you an extra chance to win for each person you tell. The email is

You can also earn an extra chance to win by signing up to receive the free email newsletter we send once a week. CLICK HERE to sign up.

james table modernGO INTO THE STORE FOR FIVE MORE CHANCES TO WIN: For five more chances to win, stop by the James + James store and send us a selfie with one of your favorite accessories, lighting or a piece of furniture in the shot.

You can post it on the Motherlode Facebook timeline or email your pic to

The store is in Springdale on Furniture Row (4217 S. Thompson). Be sure to check in at James + James and tag them in your selfie! CLICK HERE to like their Facebook page to see what’s up — and we’re sure they’d love it if you let them know you’re happy about this giveaway!

BE SOCIAL: You can also earn extra chances to win by commenting on our Facebook page, following us on Twitter or following us on Pinterest. If you do any of those, just mention it in your comment or email so we can give you proper credit.

Good luck, mamas! We’ll choose a winner on Friday!

Five Minutes with a Mom: Dina Harrell

Cole Family

Name: Dina Harrell

Kids’ names and ages?

Tanner, 14

Lauren, 12

Carson, 8


Braxton, 15

Berkley, 12

How long have you lived in NWA and what brought you here? I have lived in the Rogers/Bentonville area since 1990.  I originally moved here due to my father being relocated through Wal-Mart.

How did you meet your husband? I met my (future husband) through work.  We had previously gone to school together years ago in Rogers and I was friends formerly with his family.

Tell us about your wedding! Ryan and I will be getting married Saturday, November 22, 2014 at Barn at the Springs.  We are so excited to symbolize our love for one another and begin blending our families officially through a special unity ceremony. What started out as a small wedding vision has grown into the perfect large friends and family setting.

What has it been like to blend a family with five kids? Any secrets you can share? Blending a family of seven is tough, I will not sugar coat it.  However, I wouldn’t have this any other way! We are blessed that the blending is teaching us more patience, open communication, trust, respect, and further love.  The balance to give each child individual attention is complex.  Ryan and I both work hard in this area to ensure that all five children know that they are individuals and highly important to the both of us.  Secrets…well there are a few we use!  1. We encourage open communication.  I feel that the children need to express their feelings or this can create unwanted stress under our roof. 2. We limit the children to one friends/sleepover day per weekend.  This allows us the time to blend and learn how to live together. 3. Ryan and I must be on the same page.  We discipline and praise in the same manner.  Having a “united front” is key! 4. Ryan and I having alone time.  We feel it’s crucial to any relationship to continue to grow the bond in which led us to marriage and blending.  It is easy to say we have other things to do but we have pledged to one another that this will always be a priority!

What are some of your favorite places to hang out with your family in NWA? We love going to the movies, Fast Lane, and spending time outdoors.

Our children are in the following sports which keep us on the go: High School Football, High School Wrestling, Travel Baseball, Travel Softball, and Competitive Cheer.

What do you enjoy doing when you have a little extra time? I love to work out!  It provides a necessary outlet for me.  I also love to decorate, shop, and travel. (Cool Side Note: Dina is owner of WILD About Learning Academy in Bentonville and she’s been a teacher at World Gym for nearly 10  years.)

What’s playing on your iPod right now? Taylor Swift’s new 1989 album.

What’s the best part of motherhood for you? The ability to relate to other mothers and the real stories of life!

What’s something your friends might not know about you? Goodness…that’s a tough question.  I like to think I’m pretty much an open book.  I wear my feeling on my sleeve and always put others first over my family.  This is something I will be working on!

If you could vacation anywhere in the world this winter where would it be? Cabo.  It is by far my most favorite destination! Not to mention that this mommy needs a break!

What’s something you have always wanted to learn? How to speak Spanish fluently. I tried taking lessons this spring while in Brazil but need to continue my studies.

What are three things you always have with you? A memory, my cell phone, and the ability to change someone’s day!

What would your ideal day look like? Breakfast with my children and spouse, a calm drive to wherever it is we may be heading, teaching at the gym, a little me time, and counting my blessings at night!

One word to sum me up … Real

Santa Claus + some great buys at Northwest Arkansas Mall this month!

NWA Mall November

Santa Claus is parking his reindeer at the Northwest Arkansas Mall this month and he’s going to have a beautiful new house for the kids to visit this year!

The mall is going to have all new holiday decor and Santa’s workshop is also getting a major makeover.

Santa arrives at the mall on Friday, Nov. 21, and there will be some fun kick-off festivities. There will be a FREE show at 6 p.m. in Food Court with Brian & Terri Kinder. They’ll be singing holiday songs for kids of all ages.

Santa will arrive after the show and kids will then be invited to parade with Santa from the Food Court to Santa’s new home in Center Court. Bring the kids dressed for pictures with Santa because he’ll start posing for photos in his new digs right away!

Photo packages start at $22 and some will include free Shutterfly gift cards. Packages will be posted on the mall’s website soon.

CLICK HERE to jump over to the mall’s website. Like their Facebook page HERE and stay up to date on all the sales going on at the mall during this holiday season. The mall is a great one-stop shop for Christmas gifts (and moms love a sale!).

Speaking of sales, stay tuned for information about Black Friday events and discounts. A little birdy told us the mall event is going to be HUGE.

Here’s a partial list of stores at the NWA Mall that will help you with getting that Christmas list knocked out:

  • See’s Candies (headed back to the mall for the holiday season)
  • nwa mall giftDillard’s
  • Razorback Shop
  • JC Penney
  • Sear’s
  • Melody’s Choices
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Francesca’s
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Bath and Body Works
  • Candy Craze
  • Gap
  • Gymboree
  • Justice

CLICK HERE to see a full list of stores at the NWA Mall.


Want to win a $100 gift card? Fill out this survey!

Soapware MHW-Motherlode-Ad2 Sept14

Maybe the kids don’t listen to their mamas as much as we want them to, but more and more companies ARE paying attention to what we mothers have to say. In fact, a local company called SOAPware is going to give one local mom a $100 Amazon Gift Card in exchange for less than five minutes of her time. (SOAPware is a software development company that works with healthcare clinics and hospitals across the country.)

Fill out this online Mom’s Survey and your name automatically goes into an online hat for the random drawing to win the $100 Amazon Gift Card Woo-hoo! This would be perfect for buying Christmas presents or for mama to use on herself ;)

gift cardAs always, we have thoroughly checked out this survey and have also taken it ourselves, so we can assure you that there’s no scam here. Here’s what you need to know about the Mom’s Survey:

  • They’re not asking for too much personal information — just first name and email address and your “age range.” (No specifics.)
  • They’re not asking for too much of your time. (The survey is only 5 multiple-choice questions long. That’s it. We took it in less than five minutes, and it’s all multiple choice point and click. No essay questions here.)
  • They’re asking these questions in order to make the healthcare system more helpful and efficient — which is something we moms can appreciate since we’re usually the ones who are taking kids, aging parents (and even reluctant husbands) to the doctor.

We hope you’ll participate by providing your honest feedback on these healthcare-related questions. And if you happen to help yourself to a $100 Amazon Gift Card because you offered your opinion?? Well then everyone wins. :-)

Good luck, mamas!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required Email Address * First Name Last Name