Monthly Archives: November 2011

Nov 30

Gratitude – The Power of Thank You

By Dustin | Communication

I am a total Words of Affirmation guy.

If you haven’t read The Five Love Languages, I highly recommend you find out your “love language” as well – and listen to my interview with Dr. Gary Chapman while you’re at it.

Well, I was recently reading a post from my friend Fawn at Happy Wives Club…yes, I’m a guy who reads articles on a women’s site, it’s a curse. 🙂

Anyway, her post really struck a chord with me, and she was gracious enough to let me share it with you here at Engaged Marriage.

As you read it, please reflect on all the good and awesome things your spouse does for you every single day.  I know that my wife Bethany blesses me in ways that I don’t deserve, and I miss too many opportunities to simply say “thank you” to let her know how much it means to me.

Let’s read and reflect – and definitely head over to join the Happy Wives Club so you can stay inspired.

GRATITUDE

by Fawn of Happy Wives Club

Is it a sign of weakness to be grateful?  This may sound like a silly question but I wonder if it’s possible some people feel this way when considering the need to show gratitude toward their spouse.  Maybe it’s just that we feel so entitled to being treated well and cared for by our husband that we don’t feel gratitude is necessary.

Every time Keith buys something for me, whether something as small as frozen yogurt or a bottle of carrot juice, I always say, “thank you.”  And it’s not just empty words, I truly am grateful, and make sure to tell him such.  It wasn’t until recently that I noticed how often I say, “thank you” or “I’m grateful.”  I could easily conclude that buying me dinner, taking me to the movies, bringing home groceries and helping around the house are all expectancies in the give and take of marriage.  But since it costs me nothing to simply say, “thank you” or “I’m grateful,” I do it as often as possible.

I need to feel appreciated.  It’s invigorating to know my efforts, no matter how great or small, have been received by my husband with gratitude.  I imagine you feel the same way.  We’re a little more vocal in telling our spouse this is important to us.  Although they may not say it, men need to feel appreciated even more than we do.  They are simply wired that way.  They need to feel our gratitude and to know what they do each and every day does not go unnoticed.

“Thank you” is not a phrase that should be reserved for strangers serving us at restaurants or handing us our coffee at Starbucks.  Showing gratitude toward our spouse for even the smallest thing causes them to want to continue doing more.  It’s no wonder I am continuously saying thank you.  The more I show him how much I appreciate what he does for me, the more he is inclined to do. Of course, this should not be used as a manipulative tactic but rather come from a genuine place of gratefulness.

Wanting a pat on the back or recognition for a small gesture isn’t a sign of insecurity.  Just as expressing our gratitude to our spouse as we would to a stranger helping us with something is not a sign of weakness.  It simply means we recognize the relationship we have is special; more important than any other in the world, and we desire to nurture it each and every day.  Expressing gratitude for the little things is just another way of accomplishing that.

What has your husband done today that deserves a “thank you,” “I’m grateful,” or simply, “you’re the best”?  There’s something.

Just make the effort to figure out what it is and show him a little bit of gratitude.  I promise, it’ll go a long way.

Nov 22

7 Goals to Set Today to Make 2012 the Best Year of Your Life

By Dustin | Individual Fulfillment

Improve Your LifeIf I had to point to one action (besides prayer) that’s been responsible for most of the success I’ve enjoyed in life, it would have to be Goal Setting.

From paying off $54,500 in debt to riding 100 miles on my bike to writing my first book, the path to every major accomplishment has been paved with stepping stones in the form of specific goals.

By setting goals, I stay motivated, focused and accountable in a way that just isn’t possible without a plan.

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Ziglar

Don’t Wait Until January 1st – Plan for Success Now

If you still need to clarify your goals for next year – now’s the time.

Don’t wait until January 1st.  Decide now what 2012 will bring for you by writing down the success you want in seven key areas of your life.

I “borrowed” these from one of my success mentors, Dan Miller, and I want to share them with you:

  • Physical – health, appearance, exercise
  • Spiritual – church involvement, personal commitment, theological understanding
  • Financial – income, investments, debts
  • Personal Development – knowledge, education, self-improvement
  • Family – relationships, development of children, your lifestyle
  • Social – friends, community involvement
  • Career – ambitions, fulfillment, dreams

How to Make It Easy

If this seems like too big of an undertaking (there is a lot to think about here), I have some great news.  Dan Miller is sharing a free workbook that will lead you through all seven areas pretty painlessly.  You can grab a copy right here (just right click and select “save-as”).

Also, if you struggle with making your goals stick and following through on them, you will LOVE my favorite little strategy for success.  It involves simply carrying a piece of paper with you, and it takes about 3 minutes each day, but the results are powerful.

Go check out The Easiest Way to Improve Your Fitness (and Your Marriage) to get the details and get started with this cool strategy.

Thank You!

As we enter the holidays, I want you to know that I am SO grateful for you as a reader.  Engaged Marriage has been around for over two years now, and it’s only through your support.

If you haven’t shared this site with your friends, I’d love it if you would take a moment to click the “Like” button above to spread the word on Facebook.  And be sure to leave a comment below sharing how goal setting has (or will) change your life!

(photo source)
Nov 16

Getting Married in College

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Note: This is a guest post from Marina Salsbury.  I’ve been asked about this topic numerous times and enjoy hearing a fresh take on it.  FYI, I was married right after college graduation, and Bethany was still in college at the time.

Often couples who date in college want to go ahead and get married while they are still in school, rather than wait until they have graduated and completed their education.

There are many issues to be considered when making this life-changing decision, including how it will effect the couple financially, emotionally and socially.

Marriage in college can change the picture of cramming in the library or working on online college classes in a messy dorm quite a bit.

While there appears to be little agreement among researchers about the ideal age to marry, collegiate couples in their 20s often choose to go ahead and begin their marriages, even if they are still in school.

Developmental Goals of Young Adulthood

Each decade in life has certain developmental goals to be reached.

During the 20s, which is when the majority of people attend college, people begin to live as independent adults away from the structure of family and parents. This is a time when people start to explore their own senses of value, make plans and goals for themselves, and explore what they want to accomplish in life.

It isn’t uncommon for college students to change the focus of their studies several times during their college careers simply because their interests change and they discover something they hadn’t considered as a career option.

Young adulthood has also traditionally been a time when couples would come together, get married, and then start a family. Couples in the 1940s were married in their early 20s, but today it’s not uncommon for couples to be several years older before considering marriage: on average they are 25 years old for females and 28 for males.

This time of life is also prime childbearing age for women and often this is a driving factor for couples to get married in their 20s. If having children is a primary goal in life, many couples want to have children when their bodies are most ready and able to handle the rigors of pregnancy and parenthood.

Financial Considerations

When couples are considering getting married while still in college, one of the major factors to think about is the financial impact it will have for them. Many students are dependent on their families and parents for financial support in order to attend college.

One of the questions to ask parents is whether or not they will continue their financial support if a couple gets married. The answer to this question can have a major impact on whether or not it will even be possible for both members of the couple to continue with their studies after they get married.

Another financial issue is what kind of resources the couple will have for living expenses. Not all colleges have living quarters available for married couples. The couple may have to find a way to be able to afford off-campus living, including covering the expenses of rent, utilities, transportation and food (never mind entertainment).

This can be quite a challenge in addition to tuition and other educational expenses.

For some couples, the decision may be to have one member of the couple temporarily stop attending college and work in order to support the other’s continuing educational goals. The risk of taking on this approach to finances is that the partner who stops attending college may find it difficult to return to school once family life is well underway and other responsibilities have been taken on as a married couple.

Social Impact

For college-age couples, getting married can be a boon to social life. If they have numerous friends who are already married or at least in serious relationships, then it’s easy to have lots of support in living together as married couple.

The fact is married couples tend to spend most of their free time with other couples. Single friends may drift away or feel left out because they don’t share similar experiences or interests. This can be especially true if a couple quickly has children after they’re married.

Having children while married and in college is also a difficult challenge. Juggling parenting duties, classes, and working can be stressful on almost any married couple. As a result, many couples who decide to get married while still in college deliberately choose to delay having children until they are finished with their educations and established in their careers.

Deciding to get married is one of the most major life events. The impact of getting married while in college can be huge, financially, emotionally, and socially, but it’s possible to be happy and fulfilled, even with the stresses that come with being married while trying to attend classes and meet all of your responsibilities.

Ultimately, if it’s what the couple wants, there’s a way to make it work.

Share your story in the comments – did you get married in college?  Why or why not?

(photo source)
Nov 01

Saving Up for the Future – Dos and Don’ts to Keep a Healthy and Financially Stable Marriage

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

Note: This is a guest post from Kelly Austin.

Money and Marriage

Most couples headed down the unfortunate road to divorce will often cite money as the cause for their “irreconcilable differences”.

As we take the steps toward marriage, we base our relationship on common interests and goals. Many of us take the area of finances for granted, hoping they will “just work out.”

Our finances, like our marriage, will take work to be an area of success. Hopefully, as you entered into wedded bliss, you did so with a partner who shares the same view of money and spending as you do.

However, if you didn’t, there is no reason to jump ship. It is possible to get on the same page and develop a closer relationship with your spouse in the process.

“What’s the Matter?”

One of the issues that plague “good” marriages is a difference in spending and saving habits.

While these differences can create ongoing conflict, the bigger issue is communication about spending and saving. As you go down the road to creating a stronger marriage and a healthy financial future, both partners must be willing to openly communicate financial goals and ideals.

You may find that as you gain ground in understanding each other’s financial paradigm, you will grow and develop other areas of your marriage as well.

Let’s take a look at some of the dos and don’ts to financial peace and harmony…

Dos and Don’ts

* Do create a budget to monitor income and expenses
* Don’t develop an attitude of “I make money so I can spend money”

* Do conduct a family meeting to discuss the budget
* Don’t get frustrated and back away from these valuable discussions

* Do come to an agreement on the allocation of all funds in your household
* Don’t become easily frustrated – give it your best shot; you can do it!

* Do set goals with your spouse on paying down debt and saving for the future
* Don’t give up! If it’s too overwhelming and causing conflict, the help of a mediator or counselor may be helpful.

* Do sit down monthly to discuss the given budget and continue to discuss your shared goals – this is a great opportunity for a date night!
* Don’t ignore the finances once you get started – it’s important to stay on top of each milestone achieved toward your goal(s).

As you come back to understanding each other’s goals and dreams, you will be able to share your financial responsibilities and develop a stronger, healthier marriage as a result.

How have you and your spouse improved the way you handle your money?

This post was contributed by Kelly Austin from Higher Salary. Visit her site for information on the average medical assistant salary and guides to other popular careers.