Monthly Archives: January 2011

Jan 30

Retreat! But Don’t Miss This Giveaway

By Dustin | General

I hope everyone is enjoying a great weekend with your family.  I am going to keep today’s post very short because Bethany and I are currently away presenting (and attending) a fantastic marriage retreat.

I highly recommend you do the same as soon as you get the opportunity.  It’s such a renewal to our intimacy and our vigor for life…and that’s no exaggeration.

By the way, I wrote this post in advance of our departure, so don’t worry – I’m not using my laptop during our retreat weekend! 🙂

Awesome Giveaway

I wanted to mention that there is a great giveaway going on over at Fit Marriage this week.  We are releasing our Thrive90 Fitness program, which is perfect for busy married couples.

To celebrate the big occasion, we’re adding a major bonus to those that purchase the program this week only.

AND we’re giving away two copies, and it’s super easy to enter.  Just visit the link below for all the details:

-> Click here to access the Thrive90 giveaway at Fit Marriage! <-

Thanks!

One final word: thanks.

This community means the world to me, and you have such a big, positive impact on our marriage.

When I prepare for events like this weekend’s retreat, it reminds of how much I enjoy interacting with other proactive couples.  And, in my humble opinion, Engaged Marriage is the best place on the planet to do that!

Jan 24

Living the Sacrament: A Catholic NFP Community

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

This guest post highlights a wonderful new online resource for women practicing NFP.  If you’ve been around Engaged Marriage very long, you’ll know that this topic is near and dear to me, and I love to share quality resources when I find them.

In the United States, only about 1.5% of women use a form of Natural Family Planning (see Reference 1 below).

Unfortunately, this often means that many of these women are isolated from others who use NFP. For instance, one of our council members, Larissa, drove over 60 miles to attend an NFP class with her fiancée.

Beyond family members, she did not know who else she could ask questions of, or share in the joys and struggles of practicing chastity within marriage. She often wondered:

  • “Does NFP really work? “
  • “How come nobody else is doing this?”
  • “Abstinence is a lot harder than I anticipated, how do other women cope?”

As Catholic women, we need a support system. Often due to daily workload, family commitments, and physical distance from others with similar beliefs, we can often feel isolated.

Recognizing this need for connection with others, five women, in the fall of 2010, decided to take this need to prayer and find a solution. We felt called to provide a place for others, like ourselves, to learn more about NFP and Catholic teachings on marriage and fertility.

We wanted women to have a safe space where they could receive encouragement and share ideas, supporting one another while living out their vocation. Thus, “Living the Sacrament: A Catholic NFP Community” was born!

Our Leadership Team

Like many of our members, our leadership team is spread out across the United States.  Kara is from Kentucky, Larissa is from California, CC is from Texas, Tara is from Arkansas, and Kristin is from North Dakota!

We have already begun adding international members to our site and hope to one day have them represented within leadership as well!

What You Can Expect to Find On-site

Women visiting our community can expect to chat with others who are striving for holiness whether they are single, dating, engaged, or married. Our members use a variety of NFP methods including CCL, Marquette, Billings, and Creighton, just to mention a few!

Our current membership also includes several women who are currently NFP instructors as well as an IBCLC or two. We do our best to honor and support one another in following the teachings of the Catholic Church and encourage our members to do so as well.

More specifically, we provide online forums for women prayerfully using NFP within their marriages to postpone pregnancy, achieve pregnancy, and cope with fertility issues. There are also spaces for sharing parenting advice, posting prayer requests, asking questions about faith and marriage, and even for reviewing products we have used in our homes.

It is our greatest hope that all women will receive the love and support they need and that those still struggling with their fertility choices will be moved to abandon artificial contraception in favor of Natural Family Planning.

Do I Need To Be Catholic Or Married To A Catholic In Order To Join?

Absolutely not! We welcome women of all faiths to join us if they feel the need for support in their lives or would simply like to learn more about Natural Family Planning!

We do however expect the conversations of our members and content of our site to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church.

What about the Men?

While we are currently a women-only site, we cannot forget the importance of support for our husbands and Catholic Men in general.

Natural Family Planning is about both husband and wife, working together with shared fertility to uphold the virtues of a chaste marriage. And this is often not an easy task. Historically, there has been even less support for our husbands than for us.

There are two sites in particular that we would like to encourage Catholic Men to check out!  The first is The National Fellowship of Catholic Men.  They are on the verge of opening The Global Catholic Men’s Community. We believe this will be a wonderful resource for all Catholic Men.  You can learn more about their plans here.

The second resource is Catholic Dads Online, a wonderful ministry that allows blogging Catholic Dads from all over the globe to share with one another through their personal writings and life experiences. If you don’t have a blog yourself don’t let that stop you.

Read along and join in the conversation!

How To Join Us at Living The Sacrament

To better assure the privacy of our members and allow them the freedom to seek support in areas that are sometimes difficult to talk about, we are a private forum.  This simply means that our main forum is not viewable to non-registered members.

To log-in, you will first need to register and your account will need to be activated by an admin which can happen almost instantly or take as long as 12 hours depending on if one of us is online at the time of your submission.

We Look Forward to Serving You!

Although we just recently opened, our membership is steadily growing with both national and international members! We welcome women from all over the world to come connect with others in their search for holiness.

We look forward to meeting you!

Reference 1: Chandra, A; Martinez GM, Mosher WD, Abma JC, Jones J. (2005). “Fertility, Family Planning, and Reproductive Health of U.S. Women: Data From the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth” (PDF). Vital Health Stat (National Center for Health Statistics) 23 (25). Retrieved 2007-05-20. See Table 56.

Jan 22

Super Date Night: Not the Usual Yada, Yada, Yada

By Dustin | Romance

This is a guest post from Brad Allen of BradWAllen.com.  He previously wrote a touching and very important post called Life Is Too Short.

On the Engaged Marriage Facebook page, Dustin will frequently ask what couples are planning to do over the weekend. I’m sure one of the reasons is because he’s interested in seeing what active couples do for fun on their time off together that will aid in the health of their marriage.

He also writes often on Engaged Marriage about how important it is to take time as a married couple to focus on just that: being a couple.

I’m not going to lie, my wife and I have 2 kids, with a 3rd on the way, and it’s hard as hell to find the time to really give each other the attention we both need.

It’s kind of the whole premise behind Engaged Marriage, the Marriage Time Newsletter and Dustin’s 7 step guide – Marriage Mojo…ways to find that very important time together.

I read Dustin’s questions on Facebook but rarely answer those questions because we typically don’t have much going on besides “the usual,” but this weekend is different. We do actually have plans that fit with the driving theme of Engaged Marriage, and I’m prepared to answer his question.

Tonight, my wife and I are dropping our kids off at their Grandparent’s house then we’re heading to The Hill in St. Louis (Italian District if you will) for dinner. Afterward, we’re going to see Jerry Seinfeld at The Fox theater and after that?

We’re staying the night at The Westin hotel. I even called ahead to make sure we got a room with a big bathtub because we plan to relax, together.

With no kids and everything planned out ahead of time the only thing we have to focus on is each other. And Jerry Seinfeld… and that’s really the secret.

Plan ahead. Just like putting chicken out to thaw for dinner that evening to avoid a run to McD’s, if you plan ahead, you can make it happen.

We do these “Super” date nights a couple times a year on top of a longer weekend (we prefer somewhere out of the state so we have to fly) for our anniversary. We do this because it allows us to simply be a married couple for a little bit. To rely on each other. To remind ourselves why we got married to begin with. To help keep our romance alive. To keep our marriage healthy.

Find the time. After all, life is too short not too. 🙂

(photo source)
Jan 20

The Super-Charged Guide to Financial Freedom

By Dustin | Book & Product Reviews

If you are looking to make positive progress in your family’s finances, I am excited to let you know about a great resource that was just released by my friend Jeff Nickles over at My Super-Charged Life. 

It’s called The Super-Charged Guide to Financial Freedom, and I wholeheartedly endorse it.

Jeff’s site was one of the first blogs I discovered and, aside from also helping me see the value in creating Engaged Marriage, his advice and motivational stories played a key role in our family’s path to becoming debt-free and our ongoing journey to financial freedom. 

I consider Jeff both a great “virtual” friend and a trusted resource in the area of practical financial advice from someone who has lived it.

In The Super-Charged Guide to Financial Freedom, Jeff provides actionable, down-to-earth advice to help you with the following:

  • Creating a workable plan for changing your financial habits.
  • Effectively communicating your financial plan to your spouse.
  • Getting your spouse involved in the decision-making process.
  • How to overcome resistance to living on a budget.
  • Developing a flexible budget that works in the real-world.
  • Solutions to common budgeting problems.
  • Setting goals that will help you climb your way to financial freedom.

For those of you who have followed Engaged Marriage for a while and like the financial advice you’ve seen me publish here, I think the simplest endorsement I can give about Jeff’s guide is that it’s the financial resource I would have written for married couples if I chose to put my thoughts and experiences down into a workable plan. 

In addition to a very reasonable price and a full money-back guarantee, another thing that sets Jeff’s e-book apart from other resources out there is a sweet bonus.  If you buy The Super-Charged Guide to Financial Freedom, you will receive a FREE copy of the Enemy of Debt budgeting spreadsheet.  The creator of this spreadsheet (Brad Chaffee) is another friend of mine, and his budget is a polished version of the spreadsheet my wife and I used for years before switching to You Need A Budget

So, if you’re looking for a nice budgeting tool in addition to the plan, advice and motivation to use it to achieve powerful results, this package gives it all to you for less than $15!

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to go visit Jeff’s site and learn more about his new e-book.  If you decide to purchase The Super-Charged Guide to Financial Freedom and you put it into action in your life, I hope you’ll consider guest posting here at Engaged Marriage in the future to share your success story.

Jan 13

5 Reasons to Tell Her You Struggle with Porn

By Dustin | Communication

This is a very important guest post about a topic that needs much more attention.  Thank you to Mark Chamberlain, Ph.D. for contributing it, and please check out more about his work in the bio line at the bottom of this post.

Maybe it started during a long business trip or surfing through cable channels late at night after she was asleep.

You found yourself more hooked into it than you wanted to be. Viewing that smut violates your own values, and you know she’d be offended if she found out. Her finding out… you shudder to think about that.

You don’t want to disappoint her or have her worry that this is a bigger deal than it really is. She has enough on her plate.

So you resolve to deal with it on your own. You’re confident that you can stay away from it. Maybe some day you’ll even tell her that it was something you conquered on your own long ago. So with renewed resolve you move forward, and do manage to stay away from it – for a while at least.

But then you find yourself caught up in the porn again. Enough times now that you’d have quite a bit to confess if you were to really come clean with her.

What’s a guy to do?

Tell her, that’s what! 

I know it might feel impossible, but here are five really good reasons to muster the courage and just do it:

1. Women love real men! I don’t mean men with deep voices who drive pickup trucks and bench press a lot. I mean men who are genuine and honest and open. Our wives love it when we are willing to engage and connect as we are instead of pretending to be something else. Sure,women hate it when their husbands make a habit of lusting after other women, but most women understand that porn can be addictive for men

She will be disappointed at first, maybe even emotionally devastated. But not nearly as hurt as if she were to find out on her own. She can come to understand that you want your life with her more than you want porn – but only if you open up to her about the struggle and let her know that!

2. You’re one of the good guys who deserves support! You may have developed the habit of holding your emotions in, trying to be tough, and dealing with problems on your own. You may be living in the man box that so many of us were raised to believe we need to stay in.

However, it’s okay to admit that a struggle like this is bigger than you. If it weren’t, you would have succeeded on your own before now. If she were struggling with something this difficult in her life, you’d want her to tell you so that you could be there for her, wouldn’t you?  The truth is, after the initial shock, most women feel closer to their husbands once his porn struggle is out in the open and they’re working on it together.

3. You can get this wedge out from between you and your beloved! Let’s face it, for as long as you’ve been struggling, you haven’t been able to really look her in the eye. There’s a part of you that wants to fly under her radar instead of truly engage and connect with her. Caught up in the guilt, you’ve had less mental energy to devote to her and her needs.

You’ve been more irritable. You haven’t realized it, but the primary source of your misery is not actually the porn but the closeness you’re missing out on between you and the most important person in your life!

4. Teamwork is the best path out of a pornography habit! Now that she knows, you’ll be able to reach out instead of acting out. A strong relationship is the most powerful avenue of relapse prevention. Recalling her pain will be a tether to help keep you grounded when you’re tempted in the future.

You’ll have someone to talk to when you’re feeling emotionally deflated and more at risk of relapsing. And here’s the great thing about the fact that she’s a woman: you’ll be able to talk about what you’re feeling with someone who understands emotion. You’ll have someone else joining you in praying for your success in this struggle.

5. Struggling together will draw the two of you closer! (Eventually.) Communicating about this extremely difficult issue is training at high altitude. Later when you face a crisis at work or with one of your kids, you’ll have access to all of the skills and strengths you’re developing now. If you can face this together and work through it,nothing will be able to tear the two of you apart!

And you really can face this together and work through it!

Trust her enough to open up about it, and you will most likely discover that you can!

Note from Dustin: This topic is so important and too often treated as taboo.  Please do me a favor and share this post with everyone you know…you could have a real impact in a marriage if this reaches a husband that’s just waiting to hear these words.

(photo source)

______________________________

Mark Chamberlain, Ph.D. writes on the topic of porn and relationships at this blog Love You, Hate the Porn. He is also the co-author of an upcoming book by the same title.  You can pre-order Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity through Amazon.

Jan 10

The Story Behind Engaged Marriage

By Dustin | Check This Out

I had the pleasure recently of being interviewed on the Coach Radio podcast, and I had an awesome time.

As I was listening to the show for the first time in the car last week, it occurred to me that several questions that I’ve been asked by readers are answered during the interview.  For example, here are some of the topics we cover:

  • How and why I created Engaged Marriage
  • My background in marriage ministry and how I took it online
  • How we’ve built such a great community using our newsletter, Twitter, Facebook and other tools
  • Why the Love Everyday project was so successful
  • What’s going on with the new Fit Marriage site and why it’s so important
  • Lots of fun conversation!

If you’re interested in learning more about Engaged Marriage and these related topics, please visit Coach Radio and go listen to the interview now.  While you’re there, you might consider subscribing to Justin’s blog and/or podcast so you can check out the variety of great interviews and posts he shares regularly.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below…

Jan 03

The Top 10 Posts on Engaged Marriage in 2010

By Dustin | Link Round-Up

I always enjoy the year-end round-up posts on the blogs I read, so I figured I’d do one here at Engaged Marriage, too!

Based on the number of times they were read, here are the Top Ten posts of 2010:

10. Budget Software Reviews: Choose Your Tool for Successful Money Management

9. You Need A Budget: Money Management for a Happy Marriage

8. How Does Natural Family Planning Benefit Marriage?

7. Fight Fair! 6 Simple Conflict Resolution Skills for Your Marriage

6. Our Debt-Free Marriage: How We Paid Off $54,500 in the Name of Freedom

5. 37 Family Things to Do at Home on a Rainy Sunday

4. Write an Awesome Romantic Love Letter: The Simple “5R” Approach

3. 10 Awesome Gifts for Married Couples

2. The Best Kept Secret About Mind-Blowing Sex

1. Should Married Couples Have Joint or Separate Bank Accounts?

Did you have a favorite post that didn’t make the list?  Please share it in the comments!

2010 was truly a remarkable year for our community, and the growth we’ve shared in readership and enthusiasm has been very inspiring to me. 

Thank you so much for your continued support, and if you haven’t already please share this site with a friend, sign up for our newsletter, join us on Facebook and have some fun with us on Twitter.

Thanks!

(awesome photo source)