Jan 19

6 Tips for Creating a Household Budget

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

6 Tips for Creating a Household BudgetThey say opposites attract, but opposite views on finances can lead to dangerous territory in a marriage.

Many couples run into issues when they realize that one is a saver and the other is a spender.

One of the best ways to help lower financial stress in your marriage is to create a household budget.

Examine All Your Spending Habits

The first step to creating a household budget is to figure out exactly where you and your family are spending money.

When you’re writing down the categories you spend money on, don’t forget to include regular necessities that occur every month, such as groceries, mortgage or rent, utilities, credit card bills, and other loans.

Next, count in variable expenses such as emergency savings, vacations, and money for dining out. Once you’ve accounted for every expense you can think of, subtract the expenses from your household income.

It’s very possible that you’ll end up with a negative number at this point.

Find Categories Where You Can Cut Spending

If you do come up with a negative number, that means you’re spending more than you’re making. While it’s hard to do, you have to go back through your categories and figure out where you can cut spending.

The first categories you need to work with are the recreational ones.

While it’s not enjoyable, cutting back on money spent for vacations and meals out during the short term will help you reach stability in your budget for the long term.

Create a Weekly Budget

After you’ve decided where you can cut expenses, it’s time to create a weekly budget. Weekly budgets are better than monthly ones because they’re easier to create and they leave less room for error.

While you’re creating your weekly budget, don’t forget to plan for emergencies and put aside money for special occasions such as holidays and birthdays.

Make a Plan for Leftover Money

As your budget starts to become firmer, you should start to have some money remaining every month.

While you can certainly spend this money on the recreation categories that you had to cut from earlier, you should plan to save some of that money as well. After all, while one reason for setting a budget is to help you stay in the black, it’s also supposed to help you create a healthy savings.

Whether you invest this money in a mutual fund, add to your savings account, or make an additional contribution to your retirement fund, it’s important to create a plan and stick with it.

If you just let this money sit around, you’re less likely to save it and more likely to spend it.

Pay With Cash

One great way to stick with a budget is to prevent small expenses from adding up.

To do so, figure out how much you spend every week and take out just enough cash to cover those expenses. When you use cash to cover discretionary expenses, it’s easier to prevent overspending than with a debit card or credit card, where small expenses can add up before you even realize it.

When you see that you won’t have much cash left if you get that extra cup of coffee in the morning, you’re more likely to skip buying items that you don’t really need.

Sign Up With a Budget Website

If you’d like an online tool to help you create and balance your household budget, consider signing up for a website like Mint.com or You Need A Budget.

To begin on this free money-management website, simply use a device like one of the best 2-in-1 laptops from Lenovo to link all your financial accounts. Since these PCs can convert into a laptop, tent, stand, or tablet, it’s easy to use these powerful tools to help you manage your money, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing.

Simply add your expenses in typical categories, including gas, groceries, and credit card payments and create a budget around your spending patterns.

To help prevent financial issues from entering your marriage and causing stress, it’s important to work together to create and follow a budget.

Use these tips to make your own household budget and see how you can change your spending and saving habits.

 

(photo credit)

Jan 18

When Did You Stop Nurturing Sex in Your Marriage?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

lack of sexRecently, there was a big fire in a treasured old building in downtown Omaha, Nebraska.

I wrote a blog post about it here (I used the fire as an illustration for vital lessons for marriages struggling sexually).

Today I again want to use the fire as an illustration.

As is the case with most fires, the investigation after the recent Omaha fire primarily was about figuring out how and where it first started.

Fire investigators try, often successfully, to trace everything back to a source. A starting point. A trigger.

By working backward, they can figure out how to move forward – either to make sure whatever went wrong doesn’t happen again OR to solve mysteries that are hidden way back at the source.

“Uh, what exactly does this have to do with sex?!” you’re probably wondering.

Quite a bit, actually.

The longer I speak and write about sex and hear countless stories about marriages struggling sexually, the more intrigued I am about how and where the struggles began.

I used to want to jump quicker into talking solution, but not so much now.

Now I want to know the back story.

When did these sexual problems start? Why do you think they started? I dig through the rubble for the source, the starting point, the trigger.

Sure, in the headline, I ask, “When did you stop nurturing sex in your marriage?” But I just as easily could have asked…

“When did you start refusing sex?”

“Why did sex become boring?”

“When did you start disagreeing about sexual frequency?”

“Why is sex always a battle ground now?”

Anyway. You get the picture, right?

It’s really hard to find solutions to sexual struggles if we don’t at least have some framework to look closer at the problem in the beginning.

Truth be told, a lot of people just don’t want to do that.

Because it is exhausting and tedious work – to lift and sift through the boulders and shards of relational turmoil.

Sometimes, what’s going on couldn’t even be classified as turmoil. It often goes by it’s more common name – “life.”

“Life got crazy busy. We had soccer practice. And that job promotion. And the furnace went out. And then our teenagers had to study for the ACT. And don’t even get me started about the problems we had with the car.”

I meet and hear from so many people whose sexual intimacy is anything but intimate (and certainly not frequent), and they drifted to that reality long ago.

That sexual drift – away from intimacy – likely was trigged by something.

Maybe that something was  intense on the relationship Richter scale, like a porn addiction or adultery.

Or maybe that something was less dramatic, like a rogue calendar or added responsibilities at work or slowly mounting financial struggles.

Something, though, began sabotaging the sexual relationship.

If that describes your marriage, I pose the question again:

When did you stop nurturing sex in your marriage?  Think for a moment.  Can you find the how and where?

When you find the how and wherethe source, the starting point, the trigger — it is easier to find a solution.  (Notice I said easier, not easy, because solving sexual struggles takes hard work and heart work).

But your marriage is worth it.  It is so worth it. And nurtured sexual intimacy is worth it.  When we learn why destructive fires start, we are better equipped to keep them from doing more damage in the future.

For more reading, consider the insight found in the post Is Your Marriage Beyond Sexual Repair?

Jan 05

How I Fought To Save My Marriage and Won

By Dustin | Help

How I Fought To Save My Marriage...And WonIf you and your husband decide to a trial separation, just be prepared for comments from others.

They will assume.

They will worry.

Most of all, they will not know the right things to say.

They will think of only two no-no words: marriage problems.

Not that it’s any of their business.

You’re simply telling them so they won’t have to hear it from someone else, or figure it out, or for there to be an awkward situation later.

If you do have a separation, just make sure to coach the people you tell; you can tell them it’s temporary, and that you still love each other.

Separating to Save Your Marriage?

You don’t know where it will lead, but you do know it’s right for you and your relationship.

Because what you’re really doing is giving each other space so you can come together in a new and better way.

You’re not giving up, but instead giving each other a chance.

No matter how it appears to other people, don’t let that deter you from the ultimate goal—saving your marriage.

When Being Apart Helps You Come Together

Annie and her husband agreed to a separation.

It was mostly his idea, and a time for him to really explore who he was and get through some personal issues. Sometimes, as Annie learned, separation isn’t 100% because you don’t want to be married, but rather that you need to relearn how to be yourself.

So that’s what they did.

With big things looming on the horizons—financial issues, the possibility of having children—for them the break was worthwhile. They could think.

It was lonely at times, and confusing at times. That is to be expected. But Annie said being apart made them come together.

Keep Dating While Apart?

One thing they did right: they kept dating.

They’d eat out together and talk. And this is when they would blurt it all out.

Their lists. What they loved about each other, and what they hated about each other.

They laid it all out on the table, so to speak. Those sorts of things are always hard to hear, but sometimes very necessary in order to get unstuck.

They had been stuck, but now they had the beginnings of saving the marriage.

When Marriage Separation Should Be An Option

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together or how strong your marriage was in the past, all marriages go through ups and downs. If your marriage is in a continual down, then maybe marriage separation could be the option that helps you get past it.

It worked for Annie and her husband. They went to couples therapy, and they each spent alone time in therapy.

Having a third party experienced in this sort of thing really helps to reassure and propel each spouse into realizing that things like this happen. No, you’re not the only one who feels this way. And it doesn’t have to end for you to be happy.

Annie was scared that her husband did or would have an affair, since he knew there was a woman he worked with who really got along well with him, and was everything she wasn’t.

But he was willing to work on things. He was trying and not hiding anything. So she let those thoughts go.

Sometimes, however, when they met to talk he would change his story. He’d talk about how he loved her and wanted to get back together; other times he’d say that they weren’t meant to be and it was time to break things off for good.

Really, deep inside he was hurting and confused himself. What he needed to know was how much she wanted it, too.

So Annie did what any woman in love would do—she fought for her marriage…. and won.

Happily Ever After?

They started to cuddle, hold hands, and be intimate more. It was less mechanic and more loving.

They started being less selfish by focusing on themselves, and putting more stock into the other person instead. It worked wonders.

By doing that, they unconditionally loved each other, faults and all, and expected less of each other. In the same breath, they each worked harder on what they could control—themselves.

Annie worked on her faults, and her husband worked on his.

The only thing that couples who separate truly regret is not trying harder to save the marriage sooner.

It seems as if marriage is just there, and it should sustain itself. But that’s not true.

It takes constant effort of nurturing love. Both parties must focus on what is truly important—each other.

Finally, Annie’s husband moved back in. It wasn’t easy, but things were definitely better. They kept going to couples therapy, and now they appreciated each other more. They realized what they could have lost, but were willing to fight for.

In this case, it was worth the fight for both of them. Because in the end, they won each other.

Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples in therapy. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is currently associated with Marriage.com, a reliable resource assisting millions of couples to resolve their marital issues. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts (Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy).

Dec 21

Sexual PDA: Better to Give AND Receive!

By Julie Sibert | General , Sex & Family Planning

public display of affectionIt’s that time of year when you’re making the rounds of parties for Christmas and the New Year.

Maybe you’re even hosting a few of these shindigs. (If that’s the case, then you’ll definitely need a way to relieve some stress!)

I want to lay down a challenge for you and your spouse.  Be super intentional about communicating your sexual desire for each other at these gatherings — without being obvious about it.

There’s something beyond sexy about public display of affection (PDA).

I think this is particularly arousing if PDA isn’t really your thing.  After courageously venturing into this arena, you may discover it is your thing!

Let those crowded chaotic boisterous parties be your opportunity to give AND receive PDA. It will make sexual connection even hotter when you crawl beneath the sheets after the party lights go down.

You may even be inspired to leave the party early!

Want some ideas? (Of course you do!)

Here are 5 public displays of affection worthy of your heart and time:

Use Those Fingernails

Gals, you more than likely have an advantage in this department.  There’s just something about fingernails and light caresses.  Some great areas to run your fingernails?  Back of the neck, just under the shirt cuff, along the arm, along the hand and fingers.

Get creative and make the most of those tingling touches with your fingernails.  Your lover will totally get what you’re saying.  And you won’t have to say a word.

Find the Small of the Back

What is it about that waistline area right in the center of the back?  Husbands and wives can both make the most of affectionate touch in this area.

To make it especially sensuous, move your finger tips in a subtle, yet firm, circular motion, drifting along the waistline toward either hip or up the spine.

Get Sneaky

Okay, this might not count as true public display of affection, because it’s all about sneaking out of sight.  Obviously, you have to be wise about this, especially if you are in someone else’s house.

But if you discern it’s appropriate and easy to sneak into the pantry, den or a hallway out of sight, then take the chance to have a passionate kiss or some less-than-subtle caressing.

Whisper Your Intentions

Sure, you don’t want to announce in the presence of partygoers what you’re going to do later when you get naked.

But there’s no reason why you can’t whisper those things quietly to your lover.  You know, while you’re going through the buffet line or making your way to the kitchen for a refill on your refreshment or cuddled up on the couch in the family room.

BONUS TIP

You don’t have to wait for a party to put your PDA plan into action.  All of the above work well in other atmospheres as well — shopping at the mall, traveling in the car, waiting at the airport, going out to dinner,  seeing a movie, running errands and so forth.

Make the most of your public display of affection!  It will pay big dividends later! (And by later, I mean a few hours later.  Literally. Just. A. Few. Hours. Later.)

Dec 14

Two Romantic Christmas Ideas To Bless Your Spouse

By Debi Walter | Romance

Two Romantic Christmas Ideas to Bless Your SpouseTwo Romantic Christmas Ideas for you to try or tweak to your own liking…

Number One:

Celebrate the 12 Days Of Christmas either leading up to the 25th or starting on the 25th. Think of your spouse’s favorite things and surprise them each day. Here are some ideas:

First Day – One baked hen (a romantic dinner to start the 12 days off right)

Second Day – Two turtle candies

Third Day – Three French kisses

Fourth Day – Four Calling Friends – arrange for four of your spouse’s faraway friends to call them at different times of the day. Or go to dinner with two other couples.

Fifth Day – Five Golden Rings – give them 5 of their favorite donuts.

Sixth Day – Six Geese A Laying – Share breakfast in bed with a three egg omelet for each of you.

Seventh Day – Seven Days of resting – spend time planning a week long vacation. If you can’t afford it right now, dream for your bucket list.

Eighth Day – Eight Milky Way bars – or their favorite candy.

Ninth Day – Take your lady dancing. Or watch an episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

Tenth Day – Give them “10 words a-speaking” of your love. Can you make a synopsis of your marriage in 10 words?

Eleventh Day – Eleven cupcakes with piped icing on top. Or think of something a little more sexy 😉

Twelfth Day – Twelve drummers drumming in almost 12 minutes…Watch this documentary about Drum Corps, titled 11 1/2 Minutes.

Number Two:

Give A Love Letter To Your Spouse using the titles or familiar lyrics of Christmas Carols.  It is sure to make your spouse smile!

Copy and paste this into a document and give it to your spouse via e-mail or snail mail.

See if they can find all of the Christmas Carols–there are a total of 24.

Make it really fun by giving them something special if they get them all right. :)

It came upon a midnight clear of what I wanted to give you, in fact it’s all I want for Christmas as well.

It started when I was rocking around the Christmas tree one silent night thinking of how to keep you from feeling a blue Christmas. Not that I mind the color blue, but a white Christmas would be better, don’t you think? I know you’re expecting nuttin’ for Christmas, which makes surprising you all the more fun.

When I was setting up our decorations, I found tucked away in a manger, something that gave me an idea. It was my Christmas wish from last year. What if I were to make a list and check it twice of all the highlights we’ve enjoyed together this year? We could read it together the night before Christmas while listening to the carol of the bells. As the jingle bells sound, I’ll look back on 2015 with wonder as I wander, and I pray you will as well.

I can’t wait for you to exclaim “Joy to the world! It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!”

As we deck the halls with holly and ivy, it helps take away my fear of the grinch who stole Christmas a few years ago, ever coming back to our home for the holidays.

Honey, do you hear what I hear? It’s the sound of sleigh bells ringing and a reminder of all I want for Christmas. It’s to walk with you in a winter wonderland and remember gifts we’ve been given all year long.

I love you and thank God we get to celebrate another O Holy Night as husband and wife.

It has been a pleasure this year to share a monthly post about romance in marriage with you. I pray it has benefited you and given you ideas on what romance looks like practically from day to day.

I want you to know I count it a privilege.

If you would like more ideas for romancing your spouse at Christmas, check out my Romancing Your Husband and my Romancing Your Wife lists on our website. There’s something there for everyone.

Merry Christmas and A Blessed New Year to you and your spouse!

(photo)

Dec 03

19 Gift Ideas For Your Guy This Christmas

By Dustin | Romance

19 Gift Ideas For Your Guy This Christmas
‘Tis the season to find a special gift for husband…who refuses to give you any good ideas! :)

Are you shopping for your husband and can’t seem to think of a creative idea?

Here are 19 unique ideas to get you started in the right direction.

These all come from Amazon, so they are super-easy to get shipped right to your door.

Even if he already has one or more of the items listed, you may still find some options in the links below to give you the perfect idea for him, your Dad or your son!

The list isn’t in any particular order and prices range from ten dollars to over a hundred.

So whether you are trying to find a stocking stuffer or a the ultimate manly gift, this list should help you give your husband a gift he will enjoy.

Happy shopping!

Fit Bit

Fitbit designs products and experiences that track everyday health and fitness, empowering and inspiring people to lead healthy, more active lives.  Fun gift for those husbands who are interested in fitness!

Kindle Paperwhite

 

Kindle Paperwhite is a great gift idea for those husbands that enjoy reading.  There are many types of Kindles to choose from, but this one allows the reader to use it even in the sunlight with no glare!  He can relax anywhere while reading his favorite book!

 

Echo

 

Amazon Echo is a fun gift for those who love technology! Using voice technology, it can share information, music, audiobooks, news, weather, traffic, sports, and more–instantly!

 

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Grill Tools are a great gift for the guy who loves to cook outdoors!  This set comes with a nifty storage case!

 

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This Yeti Cooler is top of the line when it comes to chilling your drinks and food!

 

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If your husband doesn’t need an entire cooler, this Yeti Can Coozie is the perfect personal sized gift for him!  He’ll thank you when his drink is still cold HOURS later!

 

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Home Brew Kits are a popular gift.  Craft beers are all the rage right now, and making his own brand might be the perfect gift idea!

 

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Art of Appreciation Baskets come in many different varieties.  From candy to meat to snacks, they’ve got you covered!

51PD7s40ZZL._SX522_Cologne is always a great gift.  This scent is refreshing and classic…you can’t go wrong!

816mOAjctSL._SL1500_Tervis Cups are a great stocking stuffer. The insulation makes sure your beverages stay the temperature you prefer.  Many styles to choose from!

 

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A Bose Speaker is the perfect gift for the husband who enjoys listening to music!  This would be perfect if he is in his home office, working in the garage, or doing anything on his “honey-do” list!

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Amazon Fire TV is a useful gift for the whole family! It allows you to listen to music, watch TV shows, movies, and even play games!

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If you are searching for a personalized gift, this Engraved Titanium Ring may be it!  Lots of options available!61uYoMZXfpL._SL1500_Beats Headphones are perfect for the husband who likes to rock out! Many styles and colors are available!

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Is your man high maintenance?  I’m sure he isn’t, but this Man Groomer may be the right gift for him if he is looking to increase comfort and save time!

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Is your husband the Best. Husband. Ever?  If so, this might be the perfect stocking stuffer for him this year!

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Copper Mugs are all the rage!  Perfect for those mixed drinks he likes to enjoy!

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This Voice Activated Alarm Clock is the perfect gift for those guys who like technology…and have trouble with small buttons!

 

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Is your house the party house?  Or does your family enjoy a dance party?  This iON Speaker works well for all of those! If you have a device with music and Bluetooth capability, your party awaits!

 

If you’re the wife, I hope this list gives you some great ideas to really spoil your husband…and if you’re the husband you have some new ideas for your wishlist!

What’s on your gift wishlist right now?  Share it in the comments to help other couples with some new ideas!

 

 

Dec 02

24 Glamorous Gift Ideas to Wow Your Wife This Christmas

By Dustin | Romance

24 Glamorous Gift Ideas to Wow Your Wife This ChristmasThe Christmas season is here!

Are you looking for an awesome gift for your wife to let her know how much you care?

Here are 24 unique ideas to get you started in the right direction.

These all come from Amazon so they’re super-easy to get shipped right to your door.

Even if a particular item doesn’t fit your fancy, you may find some option from the links below to give you the perfect idea!

The list is in no particular order and prices range from ten dollars to over a hundred.  So whether you are trying to find a stocking stuffer or a big gift, this list should help you give your wife a gift she’ll love.

Happy shopping!

 

Leopard Print Infinity Scarf

Infinity Scarves are a fun way to spice up an outfit.  This particular scarf comes in many color combinations, so choose one that you think your wife would enjoy!

Knitted Infinity Scarf

Knitted Scarves are another trendy type of accessory.  These scarves come in many colors and can change the look of any outfit!

Space Dye Infinity Scarf

Chunky Infinity Scarves also add a cozy look and definitely keep you warm during the cold winter months!

 

Alex and Ani Rafaelian Silver Finish Initial Bangle

Alex and Ani Bangle Bracelets are so versatile.  These are meant to be worn stacked, so even if your wife has one, there are so many styles to choose from!

Bella Ryann Silver Plated Birth Crystal

Bella Ryann Bracelets are similar to the Alex and Ani ones, but are about half the cost.  No matter what your wife’s style is, a bracelet (or two) can be found for her!  These are available in silver or gold!

 

Hand Stamped Jewelry

Hand Stamped Necklaces can be personalized with the names of family members.  You can’t go wrong with jewelry!

Perfume

Perfume is a gift for both of you!  This fragrance is a classic choice.

 

Coach Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a useful accessory!  This pair of Coach sunglasses are a trendy look this year.

 

Crossbody Purse

Crossbody Purses are both functional and stylish.

 

Weekender Bag

This Weekender Bag looks fantastic and would be useful when you take your wife away for a romantic overnight stay!

 

Fringe Bootie

Fringed booties are very stylish right now.  They look great with casual or dressy outfits.

Buckled Knee-High Riding Boot

Riding boots are a great accessory.  This taupe color is very versatile, so she can wear them with lots of outfits!

 

Tervis Cup

Tervis Cups are a fun stocking stuffer.  These are great quality and can be found in many different styles!

Insulated Wine Glasses

Insulated Wine Glasses may be the perfect gift!  These can keep her wine or champagne chilled while you relax together!

 

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Keurig coffee makers are a fantastic kitchen appliance!  If your wife is a coffee lover, this may be just the ticket!

 

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite is a great gift idea for those wives that enjoy reading.  There are many types of Kindles to choose from, but this one allows the reader to use it even in the sunlight with no glare!  She can relax in the sun while reading her favorite book!

 

Echo

Amazon Echo is a fun gift for those who love technology! Using voice technology, it can share information, music, audiobooks, news, weather, traffic, sports, and more–instantly!

 

Fit Bit

Fitbit designs products and experiences that track everyday health and fitness, empowering and inspiring people to lead healthy, more active lives.  Fun gift for those wives who are interested in fitness!

 

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV is a fun and useful gift for the whole family!  Lots of movies and apps.  Hours of entertainment!

 

Bluetooth Headphones

LG Bluetooth Headphones are comfortable and useful!  Whether she is working out or driving in her car, she can listen to music or talk on the phone with ease!

 

Coffee Mug

Best. Wife. Ever. coffee mugs make fun gifts, but also let her know what you really think of her.

Roomba

Roomba robotic vacuums are a great way to help your family save time cleaning!  This means more couple time for you!

 

Luxury Robe

Luxury Robes are a fun gift to receive.  Especially if you give her a gift certificate to a spa or make her some homemade coupons to let her have reasons to use it!

Fleece Robe

Fleece Robes are a slightly less expensive type of robe, but can be given with bath salts, or other relaxation items!

If you’re the husband, I hope this list gives you some great ideas to really pamper your wife…and if you’re the wife you have some new ideas for your wishlist!

What’s on your gift wishlist right now?  Share it in the comments to help other couples with some new ideas!

Nov 19

5 Steps to Bring Back the Romance When Kids Bring Chaos

By Dustin | Romance

How to Keep the Romance Alive When Kids Bring Chaos (4)Imagine your finger is on a switch.

This “magic” switch will ignite a hot SPARK in your marriage anytime you choose.

At will and in an instant, you could connect like you used to and enjoy deep intimacy.

All distractions of being a parent, an employee and a house manager go away and you experience that Soul Mate connection just like you did in the early days.

The bad news is I don’t have a magic switch for you…

…but the great news is that you CAN recreate this spark in a few simple steps.

5 Steps to Bring Back the Spark Even When Life Is Chaotic

1. Let your priorities be known!

Your kids, friends, co-workers, church associates – everyone who wants your time – needs to know that your spouse comes first (or right behind God if you’re a fellow person of faith).

Getting what you desire in your marriage starts with using your time in a way that’s in line with your desires.

2. Share Couple Time every day

Even if it’s 10 minutes from a remote location, you must devote time to enjoying each other as a couple every day. Not as a parent and not as an iPhone junkie…as a couple.

Once this becomes a habit in your life, the doors to open communication and deep intimacy will be open to you.

3. No excuses date nights

You simply have to date your spouse. This doesn’t mean you have to buck up for a babysitter and an expensive meal out – a date night in after the kids are in bed will work like a charm.

When couples make date night (or day) a reality, romance flows naturally.

4. Take care of yourself

As a busy parent, you constantly put yourself last and sacrifice for your family. While sacrifice is admirable, feeling frumpy and lacking self confidence kills your mood.

If you want to feel great and share a strong sex drive with your spouse, start by taking care of your body and mind.

5. Communicate the smart way

When couples get into a “romance rut” it’s because their communication has broken down. This is not only sucky in the moment, but it’s a dangerous slippery slope towards deep problems.

Good communication takes real skill – but it’s easy to learn and the payoff is, to put it simply, the marriage of your dreams.

Let me read your mind. You’re thinking:

“Super, I believe that this is WHAT I should do. The hard part is I don’t know HOW to actually do it!”

You’re thinking this for good reason. You’re super busy and frankly this sounds tough.

You know it’s worth it, but you’re not sure you can pull it off.

How to Actually Make It Happen

We’ve created a special workshop that leads you, step-by-step through a proven system to bring back the excitement of romance in your marriage.

This training is fun, completely actionable and totally focused on getting you the deep communication and intimacy you crave.

This program is your SWITCH:

Click here to get access to the Bring Back the Romance program

Whether you find this program helpful to you or not, please make the effort to keep the 5 key actions above a consistent part of your marriage.

No matter how busy life gets, keeping these actions in focus will keep your romance and live and well!

 

Nov 16

Should You Have to Talk Yourself Into Sex?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

talking-yourself-into-sexSo let’s say you don’t really like sex in your marriage. You maybe even would go so far as viewing it as a “necessary evil” – something you “have” to do to keep the peace.

But you pretty much hate it.

And you find yourself having to “talk” yourself into sex.   Not surprisingly, a vicious cycle of resentment grows in your marriage. You resent having to talk yourself into sex – and if your spouse knows you’re talking yourself into it, they resent you.

After awhile, you may even wonder if you even should keep talking yourself into it. (Tragically, some people eventually arrive at a “no” and decide to withhold sex completely).

I hope you’re not to that point. I encourage you to try a more humble (albeit, harder) approach.

A better question to ask yourself is, “Why am I having to talk myself into sex?” Until you understand the why (and seek to do something about it), then you’ll never get beyond the resentment dance that has come to define all of your sexual encounters.

Each marriage is unique and I obviously can’t cover every scenario, but the below three situations may urge you toward healthier sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Are you talking yourself into sex because you haven’t healed from past pain?

This is a broad area, I know. Past pain can mean anything from abuse to past promiscuity to abortion to adultery to pornography to a host of other sources of sexual pain.

Past pain can skew sex in our hearts and minds so severely that it may seem almost impossible to see sex as good and holy and worthy of pursuit.

But getting stuck in your pain will sabotage not just sexual intimacy, but all intimacy with the person you married.

Resolve to seek God’s heart through prayer, as well as the countless Christian resources available, including counseling, books, websites and conferences.  It is possible to heal from past sexual pain. You and your spouse are worth it.

Are you talking yourself into sex because you don’t experience sexual pleasure?

God designed sex to be pleasurable for a husband and a wife. Orgasm was God’s idea, His gift to both men and women.

It’s no surprise that if you are not experiencing orgasm fairly consistently when you and your spouse have sex, you likely see it more as a chore than a privilege.

Begin having some authentic conversation with your spouse about what turns you on, what turns them on, what it will take to make sex more pleasurable.

Are these conversations awkward at first? Well, sure. But the alternative – status quo of little or no sexual pleasure – isn’t doing your marriage any good.

A married couple arrives at extraordinary sex through lots of trial and error – through a willingness to enjoy foreplay and to show each other what feels good. Don’t limit yourself to missionary position, which for many wives is often one of the worst positions to achieve orgasm.

If you are a wife who struggles reaching orgasm, you might find some ideas from the many posts I have on this resource page on my site.

Are you talking yourself into sex because you don’t see the benefits of sex to your marriage?

We usually have to talk ourselves into something because we’ve yet to grasp what gain we’re really getting out of it

This is true with exercise too – until we start to see the transformation in our body and health, the thought of getting on the treadmill or lifting the weights sounds dreadful, tedious and boring.

When it comes to sex, the benefits to a marriage are countless. When a husband and wife regularly carve out time to make love, to mutually enjoy pleasure and to understand each other sexually, they begin to reap benefits beyond the bedroom.

Sexual intimacy endears a couple to each other, helps them extend grace, better equips them to do life together, and relieves stress.

There’s a boatload of science that explains all this (endorphins, the power of touch, oxytocin, hormones, etc.). But few people need science to tell them what they genuinely feel.

Truth be told, I don’t just love my husband more because of our nurtured sexual intimacy, I also like him more.  I honestly think the “liking” is the “it” factor that propels marriages beyond mediocre to something quite profound.

It’s just easier to be friends with your spouse if you both are attentive to sexual intimacy – the one form of intimacy that you can’t ethically or biblically go find elsewhere.

My hope for any marriage is that “talking yourself into sex” is the rare exception — not the rule — in your marriage.

Build an attitude into your heart and marriage that enthusiastically proclaims, “We GET to have sex!” – not “We HAVE to have sex.”

For more reading, check out 5 Ways to Be Sexually Playful While Clothed!

Nov 09

7 Romantic Ideas For Struggling Couples

By Debi Walter | Romance

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Romance doesn’t come as naturally in marriage as one would think.

It’s similar to one in a canoe on the river.

Do nothing, and your relationship will drift.

It takes effort to go against the stream of life and romance your spouse.

Add to this struggles that are common in all marriages, and drift is nearly inevitable.

What can you do to forego it?

The answer is do something–any effort, no matter how small is going to help you keep from drifting apart even during the most difficult seasons.

I’ve compiled a list of struggles that we may or may not face at some point in our marriage. Along with each I’m providing a romantic idea you might consider to get romance in your relationship back on track.

I pray it will be a helpful tool.

  1. Financial Debt>>Plan an at-home date night that doesn’t require money. All you need is the time set aside without distractions.
  2. Illness>>Do something extra special to let your spouse know how much you care for them e.g. make them a hot toddy, diffuse an essential oil to counter their symptoms, fluff their pillow, buy them a special treat you know they’ll enjoy, give them the freedom and space to recover, watch something together on TV you know they’ll enjoy.
  3. Conflict>>Be the first to apologize. Make it sincere and thoughtful. Then, plan an evening of all their favorite things.
  4. Homesickness>>Plan an evening to celebrate all things from back home. e.g. Cook a special dish, watch a movie from their home town, reminisce together asking questions to help your spouse relive special memories, let your spouse know that you understand and care about how they’re feeling. Cheer them up in whatever way you know will make them smile. Plan a special dinner party to help relieve the sadness and build some new friendships.
  5. Parenting Problems>>Sometimes when our kids are causing a lot of tension in the marriage, it’s good to give each other a break. Give them a night out with friends or alone, whichever would mean the most to them. Not all romantic gestures include doing things together. It’s being thoughtful in a way that is special to your spouse.
  6. Job Stress>>Make a big deal of the weekend when it comes! Make a sign and put it in the garage saying “Welcome To Your Weekend!” Have their favorite celebration drinks and snacks available when they walk in the door. Plan some recreational activities over the weekend to help them feel as far away from their normal routine as possible.
  7. Boredom>>Plan a surprise and don’t tell them it’s coming; let discovering it be a part of the fun. Or you could tease them that something is coming, just to help them get out of the rut of boredom. Many times all it takes to get someone out of the doldrums is to blow a little surprising wind into their sails. When I’ve done this, I’ve enjoyed the surprise as much as Tom did discovering it.

The biggest part of romance is knowing your spouse well enough to anticipate their needs.

What is your spouse’s biggest challenge right now?

How could you help carry that burden for them? Once you answer that, then do it!

Your spouse will feel loved, and you can rest assured that your canoe will be heading in the right direction.

Viva la Romance!

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