Monthly Archives: January 2012

Jan 31

One Thing Leads to Another

By Dustin | Time Management

Note from Dustin:  I’m a BIG fan of living intentionally, and I’ve learned a lot about it from Nina Nelson – aka “Shalom Mama.”  I invited Nina to share her thoughts about how to get started toward better health – and a better marriage – in a simple way.  I think you’ll love this post, and don’t miss the great giveaway at the end!

For years I was unhappy with my health.

I was overweight and felt uncomfortable with my body, wishing that I could feel better about myself. My activity level consisted of short walks and lifting my kids. And my diet was anything but healthy.

I was fed up with feeling that way.

In August 2010, my husband, Ian, and I were invited to be part of a test group for a new fitness program. I was excited to get in shape and feel better about my body.

While the workouts were fun and I was feeling stronger, I noticed that I wasn’t losing weight. That’s when I took a hard look at the food I was eating and realized something had to change. I took control of my portion sizes, stopped eating grains and sugar (for weight loss and food allergy purposes) and started eating a lot more veggies.

I started melting.

I realized that I couldn’t approach my health from only one angle. I had to be intentional about every aspect if I wanted to feel good all the time. Taking care of other needs like rest, relationships and spirituality also moved to a higher priority as I realized that holistic wellness involved more than just my body.

Through these changes, my body became healthier and I feel better now than I ever have. But something else was affected by being more intentional about my health.

My marriage got better.

As Ian and I started working out together, we began to have a lot more fun. Instead of doing jumping jacks in one place, he would chase me around the room, looking silly as could be. Jumping jacks are more challenging when you’re giggling…

Our dates also became more intentional. Instead of the typical dinner and a movie, we sought more adventurous things to do. Ian had always been in pretty great shape, but I was not. I was usually reluctant to do anything physical before for fear that he would get frustrated with me. I didn’t want to be embarrassed.

But with my new strength and endurance, I was ready to go on hikes and do other fun things outside. I quickly found that outdoor dates really made Ian come alive. And my willingness to “play” outside with him really made him feel loved. Our intimacy grew in areas that it never really had before.

And I’m happy to say that he found my new self-confidence incredibly sexy. Win.

It just took one simple change. One decision to become more intentional about health. A decision that quickly spilled over into other areas of our lives. Our finances. Our parenting. Our relationships with other people. And our relationship with each other.

Health can be simple. Marriage doesn’t have to be complicated. It just takes one decision and the intentional action to make it happen.

Are you ready?

Win a Copy of Simple Natural Health!

Nina just released her new e-book Simple Natural Health, and I have to say that it is fantastic!  And I’m excited because she has generously agreed to give away a copy to one lucky Engaged Marriage reader. 

To enter this giveaway, all you have to do is go check out the book, then come back here and a leave a comment describing why you think Simple Natural Health would help you and your marriage.

I will select one commenter at random to win the book at Noon CST on Friday, February 3rd.  Good luck!

NOTE: If you’d like to pick up a copy, Nina has also set up a special 10% off discount that expires at Noon on February 2nd.  This is good for the PDF version only, and you can get your discount by entering SIMPLE10 at checkout.  Enjoy!

Nina Nelson is a wellness advocate, mama to four and wife to one. She writes regularly at Shalom Mama, inspiring others to live intentionally. She loves reading, snuggling and giggling at miniature horses.

Jan 30

7 Romantic Gestures for Your Wedding Week

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

If you have been with your partner for a few years and you’ve recently gotten engaged, then you are sure to be in one of the most exciting times of your relationship.

If you are a romantic person who loves making whimsical gestures, then why not surprise your partner with some spontaneous surprises in the week leading up to your wedding?

If it’s the week before your wedding and everything is arranged, paid for and sorted, from the bridesmaid’s dresses with their matching jewelery, to the band and the venue, then you and your partner deserve a well earned break from all the organizing you have done. But why not add an extra bit of romance and excitement by surprising your other half with something special each day before the wedding?

Here are seven romantic gestures to make the week before your wedding even more exciting:

1. Buy some heart shaped pieces of paper and on each one, write something loving and romantic. Hide them around the house and see if your partner can find them all before the big day.

2. On a warm summer’s evening, take your partner to a quiet spot in your local park where you can surprise them with a sunset picnic.

3. Make a CD of the most romantic songs you can find and spend the night dancing together.

4. Surprise your partner with a collage, made up of photos from when you were first dating.

5. Buy a chocolate fondue set and indulge yourselves all evening while watching your favorite films.

6. Wake up a little bit earlier than normal to beautifully decorate the dining table and make a special breakfast for you both to enjoy.

7. If you are sticking to tradition by not seeing each other the night before your wedding, send flowers or champagne to where they are staying with a romantic note.

Your wedding will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable days of your life.  Why not add some romance and make it a wedding week to remember?

Jan 16

Sexy and Fun Date Ideas Made Easy (plus a giveaway!)

By Dustin | Romance

I am super excited to introduce you to a fun and innovative way to spice up your relationship.  I actually gave Bethany a love coupon book from Datevitation for Christmas, and it was a total hit.

So, I asked the founder (Alex) to share a date idea here at Engaged Marriage – he not only did that in the video below but offered a great giveaway and discount to our community – details below!

A Starbucks Trick Guaranteed To Put A Smile On Your Spouse’s Face

Olga and I are so excited to be doing this guest post for the Engaged Marriage community.  You see, our mission at Datevitation is much the same as Dustin’s stated goals for this site — that is, to provide tools and tips to help keep your marriage fun, exciting, and full of love and happiness.

We work to accomplish our mission in two ways.  First, we’ve created the web’s first and only totally custom love coupon platform.  With our user-friendly interface, you can choose to create an entire custom book (perfect for special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, or holidays) or send individual love coupons electronically through email or Facebook.

Second, through our blog and video series, we offer free step-by-step guides to romantic gestures and fun date ideas that we hope will help take your marriage to a whole new level.

In the video above, we give you an example of a cute, romantic gesture that will surely put a smile on your sweetheart’s face.   And it will literally take you just seconds to pull off.

As you’ll see in the video, Starbucks’ cups all have the following warning message: “Careful, the beverage you’re about to enjoy is extremely hot.”   All you need to do is either bring a Sharpie with you to Starbucks or borrow one from the barista, and when your better-half steps away for a moment, take the Sharpie and cross out some of the language so that the warning simply reads:  “Be careful.  You’re extremely hot.”  Then show the new warning to your spouse and enjoy the huge smile that follows.

Olga surprised me with this little trick at Starbucks, and I thought it was so simple yet so genius that I wanted to share with all of you.  At Datevitation, we believe in the power of the “little things” and think that if spouses attempted to do the little things more often, it could work wonders for marriages.

As you can see, this literally took seconds for Olga to do, but had me beaming for the rest of the day (and had me bragging to all my friends about Olga’s simple, yet thoughtful gesture).  Next time you go to Starbucks, give this a try and let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Also, we would love if you would join us on our video blog at Datevitation for some more how-to advice and date ideas!

Datevitation Giveaway – and FREE Shipping!

Alex has graciously agreed to provide a free coupon book to one lucky Engaged Marriage reader.  To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below sharing one of your favorite dates that you’ve enjoyed with your spouse or significant other.  I’ll select a random comment on Friday and get them set up with their free custom coupon book!

On top of that, Alex has set up a special coupon code to give everyone here FREE shipping this week.  All you have to do is go to Datevitation and create your book – then use the coupon code emshipping at checkout.  This coupon code expires Friday 1/20 at midnight.  You could order it now and give it to your spouse as a great Valentine’s Day gift.  Enjoy!

This is a guest post by Alex Karpman – founder of – the only place where you can create a totally custom love coupon book or send custom love coupons via email or Facebook.


Jan 11

20 Awesome Date Ideas – For Free!

By Dustin | Romance

When you finally get the chance to enjoy a date night, or even a little break together during the day, how often do you look at each other and say:

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know, what do YOU want to do?”


I know that we struggle to keep things fresh, and we pretty much always end up going out for dinner and a few drinks.  While that’s fun, there are so many other great things to enjoy together.

Well, I’m really happy to share a fantastic resource with you from my friend Matthew from Adventure-Some.  You may know Matthew from some of his great guest posts on marriage and self-improvement.

It’s called “Ready-to-go-Dates: The Cure for Dinner and a Movie” and he’s sharing it for free right now!  Just click here to head over and grab it.

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

  • 20 date ideas that you can do anywhere
  • 4 tips to spice up the tried-and-true dinner & a movie
  • None will take longer than 20 minutes of planning and preparation
  • Many are free
  • Most are creative
  • All are fun

If you’re looking for your next date idea, go get your free copy of Ready-to-go Dates – I already did!

Jan 04

Do You Share Your Goals?

By Dustin | Time Management

Todo List

The new year is here, which means that everyone is embarking on their New Year’s Resolutions.

Or maybe you don’t believe in doing the resolution thing, but you have a Life List of some sort (you might call it a Bucket List, or something else – it’s a list of goals that you want to complete in your lifetime).

Perhaps you don’t have any long term goals written down, preferring to store that particular list safely in your brain.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of making your plans; “Once I get that raise I am going to buy that gadget” or “This year is going to be different, this year I’m going to exercise more.”

No matter what your goals are, do you take into account the most important part?

As someone who is married, it is vital to set your goals with your spouse.

1 + 1 > 2

There are a number of stories and jokes that have the following principle as their core: two items combined are stronger than the sum of the two individually.

I am sure you’ve heard it in some form, whether in two arrows being harder to break together than singly, two ropes combined being able to hold more weight than they could individually, or just a reference to two minds being better than one.

So it is with you and your spouse. Together, you are stronger and can accomplish more than either of you could individually, or even if you added your accomplishments together.

Why shared goals?

Not only will you be able to accomplish more when working together, but it will be easier.

By planning your goals together, you will ensure that not only are you working on the same goals, but you both know it. This can make a huge difference in how easy it is to reach your goal, simply because you are both working toward exactly the same thing, instead of just something similar (or perhaps opposite!).

Making sure that you are both working toward the exact same goal can save a lot of trouble. If you both agree that you want to “save more money this year” but have different dollar amounts in mind (let’s say $500 and $5,000) then you will both try to save but will be using completely different strategies. One of you won’t mind going out to eat each week while the other is hoping to cut out all extraneous spending until the goal is met.

Wouldn’t this be a lot less frustrating if both of you were on the same page?

I’m sure that you are saying that you’d never be working toward opposite goals. But just imagine that you wanted to save $5,000 to take that dream vacation together next year. However, your spouse’s goal is to redo their wardrobe in order to look more attractive for you.

Both are good goals that benefit the other person, but just imagine how hard it would be to see the money that you place in savings disappear a few days later!

How you help each other

There are a number of ways in which you and your spouse make each other stronger. Here are a few:

  • Provide Encouragement – There’s nothing like having your own personal cheerleader to help keep you going. And, assuming that you have shared goals, they will always be rooting for you to succeed.
  • Accountability Partner – Knowing that you have to tell someone the progress that you are making toward a goal goes a long way in helping you continue moving forward.
  • Motivation Booster – The two above combine together to help make sure that you’re always motivated to complete the goal.
  • New Ideas – That second viewpoint is always helpful, especially when you’re stuck.
  • Sounding Board – Maybe your spouse doesn’t have a new idea, but at least they can listen to you talk out the issue and help you think it through.
  • Fill in Strengths – It is commonly said that opposites attract. If that is true, then you and your spouse will have completely different strengths, and by working together you will be able to fill in each other’s weaknesses.
  • Reminder – Life is busy, and that goal you are working for in your spare time can be easily overlooked. Sometimes just having someone remind you can be invaluable.
  • Cover Your Back – Your spouse can help fill in the gaps while you are focused on reaching a shared goal. Perhaps you’re working over-time to get a raise, then your spouse can temporarily cover the tasks you normally take care of at home.

Setting goals together

Fortunately, setting a goal together is just like setting a goal by yourself, with the additional step of comparing notes and coming to a final conclusion together. Simply figure out what you want your future to look like:

“in 10 years we want to be debt free, be earning $x a year, and have visited all 50 states”

then break those goals into smaller steps:

“to be debt free we will cut up our credit cards, live off of one pay check and use the other to pay off debt”.

And then go further still if necessary:

“so that we can live off of one pay check we will cancel our cable, take our lunch to work, and only give ourselves $x spending money each month.”

As you can see, the end goal is very obtainable, but only if you work together.

Without being on the same page, you will inadvertently sabotage each other and struggle to meet the goal. However, by working together you are likely to reach your goal even faster than you thought possible.

What are some goals that you and your spouse share?  Share them in the comments!

This post was written by Matthew from  Be sure to go grab his free e-book full of Ready to Go Dates for you to enjoy together in the New Year!

(photo source)