Monthly Archives: September 2009

Sep 29

What Does it Mean to Subscribe to a Blog via RSS?

By Dustin | General

What does RSS mean?

There seems to be a lot of confusion out there about what “subscribing” to a website is all about, what the heck “RSS” means, and what the orange buttons do that I see on Engaged Marriage and other sites.

I am going to use this post to explain RSS subscribing in very easy terms.  I hope this allows everyone to quickly understand the process and the great benefits of subscribing to this site (and others) via RSS or email.

Why Would I Subscribe to a Site?

RSS Keeps You Connected

Do you have some favorite sites (EM included, I hope)  that you like to visit on a regular basis?  The “old” way to keep up-to-date on the latest updates on your favorite blogs and news websites was to bookmark them and check in every day or so to see if anything new had been posted.

This is a waste of your valuable time! You are doing all of the work by going out to check sites, and you either miss stuff on sites that update often or see the same old stuff on sites that don’t post new content very frequently.  If you find numerous great sites, you simply can’t keep track of them effectively.

We all lead busy lives.  We continue to find great sites on the web that enrich our lives and we want to stay up-to-date on the information they offer.  Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just get all the new posts from all your favorite websites and blogs in one place to read at your convenience?

Well now you can, and it is called RSS feed.

What is RSS in Very Simple Terms?

“RSS” stands for Really Simple Syndication.  All you need to know is this service is set up to automatically “sync” content from  your favorite sites.

It’s like subscribing to a personalized magazine but instead of it coming in your physical mail box each month when the magazine is published it is delivered to your “RSS Reader” every time your favorite website updates.

I am not a technical  web-savvy guy, but even I can use RSS.  That’s the beauty of it.  You just have to change your habits from bookmarking to instead subscribing to sites you enjoy.  RSS takes care of the rest, and it is so much more convenient!

What is an RSS Reader?

An RSS reader is a place you go to read the feeds you have subscribed to. The most popular ones are Google Reader and Bloglines.  I personally use Google Reader and I love it.  Just click on the link and sign up.  You’ll be able to access it from any computer just by using your Google log-in information.  If you use Gmail, you already have your log-in information set up!

If you don’t want to set up an account at a feed reader, you can also have blog updates sent to your e-mail. This way the updates are sent right to your inbox each time your favorite site publishes something new.  I know many Engaged Marriage readers prefer this option, and I think it’s great for those who only particularly enjoy a few sites and may otherwise forget to check your Google Reader. By subscribing via email, you receive the exact same updates you would via a reader.

How Do I Subscribe to a Site?

This is the really easy part!  Most sites will have an RSS symbol (usually orange) near the top of the page, and all you have to do is click on it.  You’ll be able to select your favorite reader (such as Google Reader), and just like that you are subscribed!

If you prefer email, just look for a link to Email Updates or an E mail symbol.  You click it, enter your email address and you are good to go.  Please note that some sites (like this one) require you to click a verification link in an initial email to confirm your email subscription – this helps to cut down on spammers.

Also, in more web-friendly browsers (like Mozilla Firefox or Safari), you’ll see the RSS button right in the address bar.  Again, just click it and you are set!

On Engaged Marriage, there is an RSS button in the upper-right corner of the site.  You can also subscribe by email by putting your best email address in the opt-in box in the top right corner.  On a related note, I have also provided buttons in this area so you can follow me on Twitter or become a fan of the Engaged Marriage Facebook page.

Subscribe to Engaged Marriage

Subscribing to Engaged Marriage is Super Easy!

Thanks, but I’m a Geek & Want to Know More!

I hope you have found this summary informative enough that you now see just how awesome RSS/email subscriptions really are.  Please take a moment to subscribe to Engaged Marriage right now via RSS or email.  It’s free, you can unsubscribe at any time,  your address remains private, and you will not receive any spam!

If you are a techie or just overly intellectually curious, please check out these links for more information on RSS.  Also, check out the cool video below for a quick visual lesson on how it all works.

Getting Started with RSS

Explaining RSS the “Oprah” Way

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0klgLsSxGsU[/youtube]
Sep 28

When Should Newlyweds Buy Their First House?

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

First Home for NewlywedsSo, you are newly married (or preparing for marriage) and ready to get off on the right foot financially.

Everything you have heard leads you to believe that you should purchase a house as soon as possible rather than “throw your money away” on rent.

A house is your biggest investment and the basis for long-term wealth building.

Prices are down, tax credits are available, and everyone from your uncle to your real estate agent are urging you to act now…NOW!

Not so fast.

While I agree with each of the reasons above, this does not mean that you should purchase your first home as soon as you return from the honeymoon (or even before your wedding). Trust me, while having a good estimator for your taxes for the year is always a good asset, it is going to take a lot more than a few tax credits to make buying a house feasible.

Based on my own first-hand experience and the extensive reading that I have done on this topic, I urge you to consider two primary questions before you buy a house (and one is not even a financial consideration).

Are You Ready Financially?

I think most engaged and newlywed couples know that they need to consider their finances before they decide to buy a house.

Typically, this thinking is focused on figuring out the bare minimum credentials that a mortgage broker will require before approving them for a loan.

This is the wrong mindset.  Please do not set your financial sights on just sneaking under the limbo bar of mortgage underwriting requirements.

Trust me when I tell you that mortgage brokers and real estate agents will approve you for a much larger home loan that you should actually take on…even after the recent subprime mortgage meltdown.

I strongly advocate a more conservative approach that generally follows (I’m a bit more lax) the advice of one my financial role models, Dave Ramsey, whose books Financial Peace and The Total Money Makeover have shaped my own approach to personal finance.

Here are the financial goals you should meet before you pursue your first home purchase:

  • Have a solid credit score; 750 or higher should get you the best mortgage rates.  Alternatively, have no credit score because you don’t borrow money and get a manually underwritten mortgage.
  • Have at least 5-10% of the purchase price to apply as a down payment (in addition to closing costs).
  • Ideally, become totally debt-free, but at a minimum you should pay off all unsecured consumer debt.
  • Have an emergency fund of 3-6 months of household expenses saved up.
  • Only take on a mortgage where your total payment (including taxes and insurance) will be no more than 25- 30% of your monthly take-home pay based on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Basically, if you follow the step-by-step Married Money Management plan, you’ll be ready to thrive.

I know that my advice will seem conservative compared to what you will receive from many, especially those with a vested interest in getting you to buy a house, and a big house, as soon as possible.

However, please consider that my interest is squarely focused in helping you have a happy and successful marriage.

If you stick within these guidelines, you can be confident that you won’t become house-poor and have your home ownership dream turn into a nightmare!

Are You Sure This is Where You Want to Live?

While most couples take the time to evaluate their finances (or are forced to by the lender), many do not properly contemplate the permanency that comes with buying a house.

Generally, you will need to stay in your house for at least two years (preferably five years) in order to make the costs work out.

In other words, you are going to be in the house for a long time if you don’t want to lose a bunch of money on Realtor fees, closing costs, etc.

I strongly advocate waiting to buy a house for at least a year after you get married.

I think you will need that much time to be able to best answer questions like these:

  • Will our careers keep us in this general area?
  • Are we each comfortable with the daily commute that will be required?
  • Is this neighborhood up-and-coming and do other young couples live here?
  • Given we’ll be here for a while (and maybe you have children already), is this the school district we want to send our children?
  • Are we an appropriate distance from our mothers-in-law!?!

If you take a solid year to let your marriage mature, you will have much better answers to these questions.  Plus, there is something to be said for renting and remaining free of the responsibilities of mowing, maintenance, painting, etc. so you can just enjoy your new spouse and focus on your new life together.

But don’t just take my word for it regarding the sacredness of the first year of marriage, just look in the Bible:

DEU 24:5  If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war
or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to
stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

So, take it easy and just enjoy each other for at least a year.  Use this time to get settled and strengthen your financial situation.

And then find a great home at a reasonable price, and you will set your family up for an awesome financial life!

House photo by karla kaulfuss; Billboard photo by sylvar
Sep 25

Weekly Round-Up of Interesting Reads #3

By Dustin | Link Round-Up

Although I enjoy writing about marriage and all of the related topics it entails, I also like to take time each week to introduce you to some cool blogs and articles that I have read throughout the week.  This week we have a few related directly to marriage and a few that simply focus on having an awesome life.  And I always like to include a photo.  Here’s the third installment…enjoy!

  • How to be Married a Decade & Stay Madly in Love.  I just found the OnSimplicity.net blog this week, and I really like what I have seen.  The title of this article says it all, and as we approach 8 1/2 years of marriage, I can vouch for the great advice offered.
  • Marriage: Five Questions to Ask Each Other.  Another great marriage blog I discovered recently was FromSingletoMarried.com and I particularly enjoyed this post.  My wife and I are regular presenters at marriage preparation courses and these are fantastic questions for every couple to discuss.

  • Annual Reading: Purpose Driven Life.  I really enjoy the “Do You Dave Ramsey?” blog, which is written by a fellow fan of famous financial talk show host and author Dave Ramsey.  The site usually focuses on financial issues, but the author (a different Dave) is writing a series related to the book “Purpose Driven Life.”  This is on my to-read list, and it moved up the list this week after a cool interaction I had.  I actually had a personal Twitter exchange with the book’s author and famous pastor Rick Warren (he moderated one of last year’s presidential debates as well)…he complimented the work that we Knights of Columbus do in the world…very cool!

  • And finally, a photo to round out the week.  I think this photo from damncoolpics captures the joy of your wedding day…and based on how excited the groom is, I’m guessing they may have saved themselves for marriage!

Wedding Day Jump

Sep 22

Go Sit in a Tree! (and Improve Your Marriage)

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

It is officially Fall, and that means one important thing around our household.  My wife will soon become what she (jokingly, I hope) refers to as a “Whitetail Widow” for a couple of months.

You see, I have a small seasonal hobby (i.e., maniacal obsession) known as bowhunting for whitetail deer.  In my defense, she has known about my disorder since we met back in our high school days, so she knew what she was signing up for when she married an outdoorsmen.

Before I go on, let me state for the record that I hunt too much.  Way too much, and my wife deserves better.  She is a Saint, and if I get a vote she’s going straight to Heaven for the good work she is doing to control the rampant deer population.  Sweetie Pie, when you read this (as I know you will), please know that I love you dearly and think you are the best!

But Honey, Deer Hunting is Good for Our Marriage…Experts Say So!

I have always known that I felt a real primal need to spend time in the woods during this time of the year.  I thoroughly enjoy being outdoors, and I really do like chasing whitetails and trying to master the sport.  But only recently did it really hit me that bowhunting is true therapy for me, and something I need to feed my mind.

I am a fan of Dan Miller who is a career coach and the all-around motivational guy behind the 48 Days network.  I was reading his recent newsletter where he mentioned the idea of “Sitting for Ideas,” a term used by Andrew Carnegie to describe the hours he would spend sitting alone in a room, undistracted, to solve problems.

Likewise, Thomas Edison would go down to the water’s edge each morning, throw out his line – with no bait – and then watch the bobber for an hour until his thinking was ready for the day.  Hen r y Ford insisted that his executives spend a great deal of their work day relaxing to allow them to dream up new ideas.

Even the Apostle Paul would purposely take long walks between cities to give himself time to think and reflect.  See, it is Saintly to support my time in the woods!

The Outdoorsmen’s Version of “Sitting for Ideas”

As I was reading the article, I realized that I share at least one thing in common with all of these brilliant men.  I like to sit in trees!

If you are a hunter, and Midwest bowhunter in particular, you know that our sport involves a lot of isolation.  There is a reason my wife (and others) think I am crazy…a reason other than the fact that it is probably clinically true for a few months a year.

If you get serious about bowhunting, you will find yourself sitting in a treestand as much as an hour before the sun even rises in the morning.  In the evening, you’ll often be 20 feet in the air until well after dusk.  And your sits coul d last anywhere from two hours to a full 14-hour day (if your wife will let you out for an all-day hunt during the rut), often in freezing temperatures.

This time can be spent precisely as Carnegie and Edison described!  Aside from tuning in when a twig cracks under the foot of a nearby animal or movement catches your eye, the majority of time spent hunting from a treestand consists of, well, nothing.

It is just you and God’s creation. Silence.  Sunrises and Sunsets.  Nothing to do but think, reflect and create in your idle mind.  It is a period of true, beautiful peace.

Find Your Own Version of Sitting in a Tree

Now, I realize that not everyone who reads this article will have the desire to become a bowhunter (it’s already tough enough to find a good place to hunt).  However, I bet you can find your own way to sit for ideas, clear your head and open up your creative thinking by “tuning out” for a while.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Do some landscaping
  • Take a quiet bath
  • Play with your children
  • Take long walks
  • Put together a model car
  • Go golfing by yourself and walk the course
  • Take a hike in the woods
  • Try yoga
  • Listen to classical music in an empty room
  • Go fishing
  • Do some knitting

There are many ways to get away from all of life’s constant distractions and allow your mind to solve problems, create, and simply replenish itself.

And offer to watch the kids while your spouse gets their time.  I guarantee your life and your marriage will benefit from a fresh mind, and you may just find enough Zen to maintain your composure when the buck of your dreams sneaks into view!


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” — Henry David Thoreau


Tree photo by by vlod007, Think photo by Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis, Deer photo by Charles & Clint

Sep 22

New Header for Engaged Marriage (I Hope You Can See It!)

By Dustin | General

I just wanted to put a quick post up to let you know that I created a new header for the website.  I have heard that it does not initially show up from some readers…they either see the old one or there are some errors.  If you clear your cache, all should be well and you’ll be able to see the new logo.

If you are using Firefox, you can go to Tools-> Options -> Advanced -> Hit the “Clear Now” button next to Offline Storage.

For Internet Explorer, you will find it as follows:

Internet Explorer 8

  1. From the Safety menu in the upper right, click Delete Browsing History... .

  2. Check Temporary Internet files, Cookies, and History, and then click Delete.

Internet Explorer 7

  1. From the Tools menu in the upper right, select Delete Browsing History.

  2. Next to “Temporary Internet Files”, click Delete files... . To delete your cookies, click Delete Cookies.
  3. Click Close, and then click OK to exit.

That should have you ready to go!  Please let me know if you have any problems because I want everyone to see the site how it is intended. Let me know what you think of the changes!

Sep 19

Weekly Round-Up of Interesting Reads #2

By Dustin | Link Round-Up

As I have become more immersed in the world of blogging, my eyes have been opened to the great deal of quality content out there to read.  I thought it would be fun and hopefully useful if I posted a weekly “round-up” with links to some of my favorite reads from the week.  These will range from serious, marriage-related articles to funny photos.  Here’s the second round…enjoy!

  • Lessons Learned From a Bicycle.  I have been a fan of the Frugal Dad website for a long time as its writer is a fellow follower of Dave Ramsey’s financial principles.  This article takes a look at how we can raise our kids to appreciate the simple things and not become too materialistic.

  • 18 Best WordPress Plugins.  If you are a fellow blogger, I highly recommend How to Make My Blog as an informative and entertaining source of info.  In this post, the author outlines the best plugins you should use for your WordPress blog.  Good stuff!

  • Great Article on Child Discipline.  I recently discovered the SimpleMarriage site, which has some great parallels to Engaged Marriage.  This is a super article about the importance of letting kids learn from their mistakes.

  • List of Best Financial Bloggers.  I love reading about finances (yes I’m a nerd to the core), and Get Rich Slowly is one of the biggest and best blogs on the financial scene.  This link will give you a funny rundown of all the bigboys in that arena.

  • 40 Awesome Non-Fiction Books.  I love to read, and I especially enjoy non-fiction books that teach me something new or open my eyes to a new way of thinking.  I really loved this list from the productivity blog “Mark and Angel Hack Life.”

  • Finally, I wanted to share one of my favorite photos of all-time, which I’m sure you have seen.  I think this photo of a serviceman returning home after victory in WWII captures the essence of love.  Can’t we all relate to this feeling even if we are away from our spouse or children for only a few days?  Thanks to AmO Images for putting this one out there!

True, Raw Love

Sep 18

Thank You for 1,000 Pageviews!

By Dustin | General

Engaged Marriage Celebration

As of Friday, Engaged Marriage hit the 1,000 pageview mark!  That means pages on the site have been read over 1,000 times (by about 560 visitors).  Given that the site has been in existence for less than three weeks and has barely made it onto the radar of the search engines, I am thrilled by the level of interest that has been shown.

I want to offer a very sincere THANK YOU to the small but growing loyal readership of the site.  Please continue to spread the word among your friends via email, Twitter, posting a link to the site on your Facebook page and all of the other creative ways you guys have found to quickly grow the readership.

I would love to connect with you on Twitter (@EngagedMarriage) and look for me on StumbleUpon (driechm).  And don’t forget to sign up yourself for email updates and/or the RSS feed subscription so you can stay up-to-date with new posts (it’s free and you will not receive any spam).

I cannot begin to tell you how inspiring it is to see a growing number of engaged readers and subscribers each day and week.  My dear wife can vouch for the fact that I am often up very late at night working on the site, and its genuine interest in the content that keeps me so fired up!

One last thing: I would LOVE to hear some feedback from anyone who is visiting the site.  I want to know if you like the content and/or the format of the site, and I really want to know what topics you would like to see covered by future posts.  Please post a comment to this post or if you prefer to remain private, shoot me an email via the “Contact” button at the top of the page.

Thanks again & I look forward to celebrating many more milestones with you along the way!

Photo courtesy of AddyG

Sep 17

Get Fit and Have a Healthy Marriage: Where Do I Find the Time?

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Family Fitness Fun

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this little series, we have covered how I discovered the value of a healthy lifestyle and then looked at some specific ways that a regular fitness routine can benefit your marriage.

Now after reading these articles, I know that you are completely fired up and ready to bust your bottom on your way to rock-hard abs and some buns of steel.  You’ve pulled the Thighmaster out of the closet and found those vintage Jane Fonda workout tapes.  Now what could possibly be standing in your way?

Ah, yes.  You are thinking of all of the other things you have to do each day.  Working, commuting, eating, bathing, graduate school, spending time with your kids, volunteer activities, reading, watching Biggest Loser, spending 15 minutes with your spouse and trying to fit in a few hours of (sex and) sleep each day or so.  There is no way that a regular exercise plan can fit within your already busy day, right?

Wrong.  This post is aimed at providing you with advice so you can fin d the time to improve your health and improve your marriage along the way.  With the six tips below, I hope you will see that a traditional exercise routine like you may have in mind is not actually necessarily.  The key to fitness, like the key to a great marriage, is to make it a priority and put your best effort forward.

Six Steps to a Happier, Healthier Life

1. Make Your Fitness a PriorityExercise is Easy

I hope that the first two parts of this series have lit a bit of a fire under your rear.  Not only will your commitment to fitness help your health, but it will seriously improve your marriage.

The bottom line is you need to understand and feel the importance of physical activity, and I guarantee you can find the time.  Let me put it to you this way: if I would give you one million dollars to exercise everyday for the next month while maintaining your primary roles (job, wife, mother, etc.), could you do it?

I bet you could!  It would be a priority and you would make the necessary time.

2. Do a Time Audit

Spend a few days logging how you currently spend your time.  I am willing to bet that you spend several hours each day doing mindless activities like watching T.V. or surfing the internet.  While this may feel like recreation, many of these things are really just a waste of time (except for time spent on this site, that’s essential).

Ask yourself if you are better off at the end of the week for the time you have spent on each item in your time audit.  This will point you to the time you could instead be devoting to a better you and a happier spouse.

3. Realize How Little Time is Really Required

How much time do you think you need to exercise each day?  I’ve mentioned earlier that I was using P90X from Tony Horton and working out intensely for more than an hour six days a week.  Is this what is needed?

No!  I was very (probably overly) intense about shaping up and I took it to an extreme.  Not incidentally, I also got burnt out after following my P90X routine and then moving to an intense cycling regimen.  After getting lazy for several weeks, I am now back to a reasonable and maintainable routine.

Research has shown that you can achieve great benefits even if you cannot follow a routine that allows for all of your exercise to occur in one block of time each day.  Couldn’t you find a few 10-15 minute periods in your day to be active?

4. Don’t Answer “No” to that Last Question!

Yes, you can find at least some small stints of time to be active.  The average adult spends 16 hours watching T.V. each week.  Spend 2-3 of those hours exercising instead.  Heck, you can even use a treadmill, do some crunches, ride a stationary bike, hold yoga poses, etc. and get fit while you watch your favorite shows.

Find a little more time by going for a walk over your lunch break.  Take the stairs.  Park far away from the store when you run your errands.  Spend some of your “kid time” in the evening going for a walk, playing tag, riding bikes or playing soccer.  I bet your kids would be very happy to share this time with you.

5. Find a Time that Works & Schedule It

This is the key to consistency.  If you make the effort, you can find the time to work out for a total of 30 minutes a day several times per week.  I know you can and you know you can.

Now, you must make this part of your schedule.  It’s no longer optional, it is a top priority each day that must be planned around.  You want an awesome marriage, right?

For me, the best way to achieve this is to work out first thing in the morning.  I am not a morning person and this takes some getting used to, but you will be amazed how great you feel the rest of the day after you have invested some time in your health.  The best part is that you cannot find any excuses throughout the rest of the day to miss your workouts.  Get up, get it done and enjoy a great day!

6. Do Something YOU Enjoy

You may love the feel of polyester leotards and rainbow ankle warmers, which would probably make Options for Fitnessyou a great candidate for those Jane Fonda VHS tapes I mentioned earlier.  Perhaps you love the oldies, sweatin’ to them, and small, shiny-legged gay men.  Clearly, Mr. Simmons will motivate you.

For those of you who are not overly strange, I would suggest you do something you really enjoy.  For me, this means riding my bike on our area trails before work in the morning.  My wife loves to take a jog around the neighborhood in the evening before it gets dark.  Maybe you like to visit a gym environment, play some pick-up basketball, chase the kids around the yard, jump on a backyard trampoline, chat with friends while you climb stairs over lunch or go for a family hike over the weekend.

Just think of the possibilities, especially those that you can enjoy with your spouse.  You can invest in the health of your marriage while you spend some quality time together…you simply cannot beat that!

I really hope that this series has helped open your eyes to see the need for fitness in your married life, and I hope that you can now see some ways to implement a reasonable exercise routine into your already busy life.  Please leave comments with your own thoughts and suggestions so we can all expand our thinking on this incredibly important topic.

Do it for your spouse.  Or better yet, do “it” with your spouse since that is also great exercise!

Photos 1 &3 courtesy of kevindooley; Photo 2 courtesy of bobster855
Sep 14

Get Fit and Have a Healthy Marriage: The Reasons

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Exercise and Marriage

Welcome to Part 2 of the mini-series on Fitness and Marriage!  In Part 1, I shared my story about how I realized that exercising and feeling great physically benefited my own marriage.

As promised, in this follow-up, we will take a look at the Mayo Clinic’s article outlining the Seven Benefits of Regular Physical Activity.  However, instead of following their lead and talking about how exercise helps you personally, makes your heart beat more efficiently, yada, yada, yada, we are going to give a little thought to how these Benefits relate to our marriages.  What else would you expect from EngagedMarriage.com?

So, here are the Mayo Clinic’s Seven Benefits with my own commentary explaining why you should actually care about this stuff (other than that whole heart thing):

1. Exercise Improves Your Mood

Have you ever had a small issue turn into an all-out fight with your spouse for what seemed like no good reason?  Chances are one of you was just in a pissy mood to start with and things spiraled out of control unnecessarily.

Physical activity stimulates chemicals in your brain that leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out.  Not to mention the fact that you’ll be looking good and feeling more self-confident (and perhaps a bit less defensive).  Bottom line: you don’t pick silly fights when you’re fresh off a “runner’s high”.

2. Exercise Combats Chronic Diseases

This goes back to the heartbeat issue and well beyond it.  If you stick to an exercise ritual, you will greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and a host of other major diseases.  You will be around longer and enjoy a higher quality of life with your spouse.  Heck, maybe you’ll even win an Anniversary Dance one day if you really get in gear.

3. Exercise Helps You Manage Your Weight

Do you think your spouse would find you more attractive if you lost a few pounds?  To me, that’s not even the real question.  The key is that you feel attractive and confident about your looks.  That will have a huge impact on your marriage and your sex life.

It’s pretty simple: when you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. The more intense the activity, the more calories you burn and the easier it is to keep your weight under control.  No beer belly = more confidence!

4. Exercise Boosts Your Energy Level

Personally, this is probably the biggest benefit I see from regular exercise.  After a long day of work, I will spend time playing with the kids, getting them ready for bed, doing chores around the house, trying to maintain a connection with my hobbies (like blogging) and all of the other duties I need to fulfill as the man of the house.  My wife has even more to do.  Where does that leave us at the end of the night when we need to spend some quality time together?

With the need for more energy!  The good news is that your cardiovascular efficiency and your overall energy levels will improve with regular exercise.  Here’s to late night blogging (and “quality time”)!

5. Exercise Promotes Better Sleep

I don’t know about you, but the core of most of the “disagreements” in our marriage stem from my wife or I being crabby due to a lack of sleep. With all of the demands of modern life, sleep is the easiest thing to give up.

But it doesn’t stop with your sleep schedule.  You need to have quality sleep during the precious time that you devote to rejuvenation. Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and deepen your sleep.  And that will help your marriage.

6. Exercise can put the Spark Back in Your Sex Life

Do you like sex?  Then exercise.  Enough said.

Okay, so I guess I should provide some facts here to clarify how this correlation occurs (although all you really need to know is that time on the treadmill improves time in the sack). Not only does exercise leave you feeling energized and looking better, but it can actually lead to enhanced arousal for women.  And men with regular fitness routines are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise (especially as they get older).

Do you really need any more reasons?

7. Exercise can be Fun!

While I love P90X and the results it provided me, you really don’t have to be as intense and overt with your fitness routine.  Your activity can be purely fun as long as you do it consistently.

You could take a dance class (not my cup of tea, but maybe that works for you).  On the more manly side of things, you could try rock climbing or take a long hike.  Get your whole family involved with a trip to the park.  Plan a neighborhood kickball or touch football game. Find a physical activity that you enjoy, and go for it. If you get bored, try something new. If you’re moving, it’s exercise!

Now that you have read these benefits and thought about how fitness not only benefits your physical health but your relationship and your family life, I bet you are fired up.  Heck, you’re probably running in place and taking your pulse right now, just hoping I would cut this post a little short so you could get outside to knock out a few sets of wind sprints before you ride your bike to work today.

Personally, I’ve written this entire post while maintaining a perfect Downward Dog yoga pose.

Okay, I realize that it will take more than my posts to get you into a regular fitness routine.  However, I do sincerely hope that you will consider your spouse and your marriage when you are looking for motivation to get to the gym, go for a walk or pop in your Tony Horton DVD.

So, now you have all the reasons you should ever need to take action and improve your level of fitness.  What could possibly be holding you back?

Oh, right.  You are letting that whole finite, 24 hours in a day baloney hold you back.  Trust me, I feel your pain and I have some advice that I hope will help you see that you can (and really must) make time to invest in your health and your marriage.  T-I-M-E is what Part 3 of this little series is all about!

Photo courtesy of bobster855
Sep 13

Get Fit and Have a Healthy Marriage: The Realization

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Exercise for Family FunDid you know that regular exercise is good for you?  Have you heard that there are benefits to your health if you make physical fitness a key part of your lifestyle?

Given that you are taking the time to read an article on a site dedicated to proactively improving your married life, I’m gonna go ahead and assume you are not a moron and you do not currently live in a cave.  Of course you know that exercise is good for you!

So do you have a regular fitness routine that you maintain as a high priority in your life?  Me neither, at least not on the consistent basis that I should.  I tend to operate in extremes with my exercise commitment.  Earlier this year, I came to the sober realization that I was fat.  Not obese, not disgusting, but fat, soft and lazy nonetheless.  I got fired up.

I decided that it was time (again) for a change.  I bought the P90X Extreme Home Fitness System that you may have seen on TV, as it is one of the most successful infomercials of all time.  I can tell you that P90X is tough, its intense and it works remarkably well if you commit yourself to the program.  I was totally plugged in to the workouts, waking up at 6:00 a.m. six days a week to sweat my butt off in my basement while Tony Horton implored me to “Bring It” day after day on my wide-screen TV.

Over the course of about eight weeks, I lost 23 pounds and felt fantastic.  I turned my attention to cycling and completed my first Century (100 mile) bicycle ride on my 30th birthday in July.  I was never a threat to Lance Armstrong, but I was in the best shape of my life.  In the weeks since this pinnacle, I’ve slacked off a bit but remain at a healthy weight that I can maintain with a moderate fitness plan working out three mornings per week.Great Move!

It just so happened that my wife discovered a love of (and talent for) running this summer as well.  She would get out in the evenings after we got the kids to b ed to take a brisk run around the neighborhood.  She “peaked out” in her own way by participating in several 5K events in our area, and let me tell you that she is looking great!

But this article is not about specific fitness routines or getting you to Sweat to the Oldies.  And, although I’m pretty pumped about my accomplishments this year, it’s also not about tooting my horn (I am happy to brag on my running wife, though).  This article is about something much more important that I realized along the way.

Getting physically fit can really benefit your marriage!

It makes a lot of sense when you take the time to think about it.  Exercise reduces stress, increases self-esteem and helps you to feel more attractive (I love it when my wife feels more attractive:)).

Seriously.  Take a moment to visualize yourself and your spouse (unless they already look like a Greek Goddess like my dear wife…she does read this blog, you know) in great physical condition.  I bet you are both smiling in your vision, and for good reason.

I think we have all heard repeatedly about the great benefits of exercise as they pertain to our personal health.  But I doubt you have given much thought to the important role your own fitness can play in your marriage and family life.

In Part 2 of this series, I want to share with you a short article that was recently released by the Mayo Clinic outlining the Seven Benefits of Regular Physical Activity.  Predictably, the article is focused almost entirely on personal health benefits.  I think it will be fun and motivational to look at these same Seven Benefits and how they can help make your marriage awesome.

After all, what good is a great body without a spouse to share it with?


Photos courtesy of kevindooley