Monthly Archives: April 2011

Apr 28

The Joy of Sweat

By Dustin | Romance

How can getting physical be a memorable and enjoyable experience shared with your spouse?

Well yeah, there’s that, but I’m talking about something different this time. 🙂

I’m talking about completing a fitness event together as husband and wife.

Sure, there are extreme examples like Andrew and Sue O’Brien who ran 8 marathons in 8 weeks in 8 different countries or husband and wife teams that complete a summit of Mt. Everest.

But you can experience the “joys of sweat” with your spouse close to home and with much less physical ability.

Crossing the Line

There’s no question that keeping yourself fit, healthy and happy has a direct impact on your marriage and family life.  We’ve talked a lot in the past about the role of fitness in your marriage and what that means to the Engaged Marriage community.

Living an active lifestyle day-to-day is fantastic, and it sets a wonderful example for our children.  It reduces stress, feeds our energy levels, builds our self-confidence and enhances that other physical activity that we enjoy with our spouse.

As good as regular exercise is for your marriage, I would like to challenge you to do something special that will build lasting memories and a special bond with your husband or wife.  I would love for you to commit to participating in a fitness event together this summer.

For most couples, a very attainable and incredibly rewarding event is running a local 5K race (3.1 miles).  Bethany and I ran our first 5K as a couple for a charity last fall, and I still smile when I think about it.  I’m not much of a runner, so I had to train to keep pace with lovely wife (who had just had our third child a few months prior – yeah, she’s that girl).

Our race day ended up being cold, windy and hilly – sounds like fun, huh?  The funny thing is that made the memories all the sweeter because we overcame a challenge together and pushed ourselves to finish strong on behalf of the other.  You can read about our experiences running a 5K as a couple in a post a wrote following that day.

A Free 5K Training Plan for You

In our quest to support couples getting fit and sharing fitness experiences together, we just released a totally free 5K Training Blueprint at Fit Marriage.  This training program was developed with a professional endurance coach, and it will take a relative novice runner from walking to running a great 5K in 6 weeks.

It’s a fully-body training routine as well, so you will shed some pounds and improve your overall fitness while you get your running legs under you.  This is a great way to shape up for summer!

Grab Your FREE Ready, Set, Go! 5K Training Blueprint by clicking here!

You can grab the plan by clicking here, and you’ll get access to our growing library of free fitness resources for busy couples.

After you look it over, get with your spouse and pick a local event around 6 weeks from now.  Put it on your calendars and look forward to forging some lasting memories and building your intimacy by lacing up your running shoes together.

Do you have any favorite memories from a fitness pursuit with your spouse?

Apr 20

10 Ways to Stop a Relationship from Withering

By Dustin | Communication

Making your relationship last is the goal of every couple. However, since couples are individuals with different needs and values, this goal may prove to be a real challenge.

To be able to stop a relationship from withering, it is important to really be proactive and do everything you can to make your connection strong.

Keep the tips below in mind next time you start to feel your relationship drying up a bit.

10 Tips to Keep Your Relationship Strong

1. Communication. Quality communication is the lifeblood of every relationship. Discuss your feelings rather than the events. Intimacy is built by emotions, not by being objective.

It is important to keep an open line of communication. Always be honest to your partner. Tell your partner the dreams and fears you harbor as well as share your triumphs and failures. Open up about the people you feel attracted to and possible temptations at work. This will help keep you from acting on them.

2. Compromise. You cannot have what you want 100 percent of the time. A relationship requires that you meet each other halfway. When conflicts arise, you need to come up with a solution that satisfies you both. If you insist on doing things your way, your partner may develop ill feelings toward you.

3. Care. Of course, expressing your love is vital. Showing your man or woman how much you care through your actions is the ultimate expression of love. Cooking his or her favorite meal or buying gifts which you know she or he will love – these are all expressions of love.

4. Challenge each other. Total acceptance is a myth. The ultimate purpose of every person is to grow. If you care for the person, then it is good to make some reasonable demands. For instance, if your husband sits in front of the tv all day, it is your obligation to challenge him to be more productive.

5. Avoid parasitism. The couple cannot morph into one person. After you marry or commit yourself to each other, that does not mean that you have to share every like, dislike, interest, activity and viewpoint. The reason why a person falls in love with you to begin with is your uniqueness. Do not lose your identity.

6. Independence. Do not devote your life to your partner. Total unselfish devotion can be very boring. Your partner does not need a housekeeper or a driver but someone who can stimulate and challenge him or her.

7. Create a rewarding life for yourself. It is important to cultivate a life of your own. When your partner can smell that you do not rely on him or her, they will treat you with respect. Have objectives and work towards them. If your partner cheats, better lose the man than lose your sanity.

8. Do not make the kids the center of your universe. Your and your partner’s life need not revolve around the kids alone. Make sure that your wife or husband does not feel alienated or less important.

9. Alone time. Find time for just the two of you. This will give you necessary respite from the kids, work and friends.

10. Make friends with happy couples who do not cheat. The friends you have will determine, to a huge extent, the kind of person you are. Having positive role models will keep you on the right track.

Note from Dustin: I think most of the points made here by Kelly are spot on, but I have a feeling some of these statements may strike a nerve with you.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments!

This article was written by Kelly Austin from HigherSalary.com. Visit her site for information about the average administrative assistant salary and pay information for other popular careers.

(photo source)
Apr 06

How College Students Can Make a Long Distance Relationship Work

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

What happens when sweethearts have to split up to attend different colleges hundreds of miles apart?

Can they deal with the strain of being apart while keeping the relationship fresh? Many students boldly give it a try because they’re convinced they’ve found their true love, the person they’re destined to marry.

What can these folks do to make things work? Let’s take a look at some long distance relationship tips endorsed by relationship experts. By the way, married couples in long distance relationships can also benefit from these tips!

  • Be thoughtful: Every couple of weeks, send a hand written love note the old fashioned way, via the postal service. Hand written letters feel more personal than emails or text messages. If you’re the super romantic type, write and send a love poem every once in a while. Flowers, chocolates, balloons, or gift baskets also make thoughtful gifts that your partner will enjoy. And as always, homemade gifts are always appreciated.
  • Focus on the positive: Gregory Guldner, M.D. is the author of Long Distance Relationships: The Complete Guide. According to him, “Couples who appreciate the positive aspects of their separation are more likely to stay together.” Some of the positive aspects of a long distance relationship are the ability to take advantage of educational opportunities, the exhilaration of reunions, and the extra time to focus on personal growth.
  • Stay busy: Don’t spend time waiting for an email or a text message from your partner. You’ll get frustrated and concerned about the relationship. Stay busy by joining clubs, volunteering, or hanging out with friends. Guldner believes that “Companionship with friends helps strengthen your relationship and reduces the loneliness and depression reported by people in long distance relationships.” With certain schools with accelerated learning programs like Cardinal Stritch University, staying busy shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish.
  • Keep dates: Keep all the telephone and online dates you’ve scheduled. Being prompt let’s your sweetheart know that you’re still reliable and eager to spend time together. Setting up the dates in advance builds excitement.
  • Confrontations via email: Caroline Tiger, author of The Long Distance Relationship, believes that fighting over email is a bad idea. “It’s too easy to misread meanings,” she says. She also mentioned that if you’re concerned about ruining an in-person visit, wait until the middle of your time together to address a contentious issue. “That way, you’ve been able to reconnect, and there’s enough time left to make up.”
  • Share something in common: Some long distance partners like to rent the same movie and have a long distance movie date via the telephone.
  • Webcam: Talking on the telephone is great, but take advantage of modern technology and have a conversation via webcam. Use a free service such as Skype. To spice things up, dress up for your webcam dates! Try to schedule webcam chats every other night or so at specific times.
  • Plan visits: Get together as much as possible. Looking forward to the visits makes the time apart easier to deal with. Plan some romantic and fun activities.
  • Space to grow: Dr. Sue, a life and relationship coach based in Los Angeles, wrote, “the best long distance relationship advice for scholastic couples is to give each other space to grow as individuals.” She added, “growth and learning are what college is all about, and these are the years where a lot of your tastes, personality, and interests are going to change. Be open to change, and don’t let your relationship limit you.”

In order for long distance relationships to work, both parties have to be equally dedicated to the relationship. Enjoy the relationship, but try not to sacrifice too much.

You can do it!

What advice do you have to share for long distance relationships? Let’s talk in the comments below!

Brian Jenkins, a BrainTrack.com staff writer, contributes feature articles about careers in marriage and family therapy, among other career fields.

(photo source)
Apr 01

Marriage Therapy at Home?

By Dustin | Book & Product Reviews

As you can imagine, I’m a big fan of utilizing technology to improve our lives.  This is especially true in our relationships where it’s so easy fall into patterns where we rely too heavily on our electronics and let it have a negative impact on our roles as spouse and parent.

Of course, as an Engaged Marriage reader, you’re taking the initiative to use the power of the Internet for good.  And I am excited to share the work of a friend who “gets it” and has found a way to combine her abilities as a therapist with the power of online availability to help many couples – from engagement through marriage refresher.

Meet Lisa Brookes Kift, MFT

Lisa is a licensed psychotherapist with a private practice in Marin County, California.  Through her practice, she’s able to help many couples in the San Francisco area, and while that’s fantastic, it’s also limiting.

So, Lisa has found ways to make a positive impact on many more marriages by taking her expertise online.  I probably first encountered her on Twitter, and I was immediately impressed by her site and the resources available there.

Therapy-At-Home Workbooks

While she is quick to note that these resources are not a replacement for face-to-face therapy for those who need it, Lisa has developed several fantastic resources to help couples right from the comfort and convenience of their own homes.

There are currently two e-book based courses in this series:

I had the privilege of reviewing a copy of The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook, and I definitely recommend it for couples who are looking for a therapist-led refresher on the big issues that are impacting their relationship.

This workbook is intended to help couples:

  • Remember Why You Married in the First Place
  • Strengthen Your Communication Skills
  • Increase Your Emotional Safety
  • Explore Your Relationship Balance
  • Identify Problematic Family of Origin Issues
  • Explore Your Marriage Logistics and Roles
  • Develop or Revisit Your Personal, Couple, Family Goals and Marriage Vision
  • Learn Tips about How to Work Through Three Common Marriage Problems

As you can see by the topics listed, The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook is really intended to get back to the basic (and vitally important) foundational issues in your marriage and strengthen your relationship from there.  For many couples, this kind of focus will have a dramatic impact on the quality of their marriage and family life.

I encourage you to go check out the overview page for The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for all the details.  If you’re not married yet or are newly married, check out what Lisa’s offering with The Premarital Counseling Workbook for Couples.

These are great resources available in a super-accessible format.  I love that!