Monthly Archives: April 2013

Apr 26

Engaged Marriage is Hiring Monthly Columnists!

By Dustin | Ask the Community

Engaged Marriage has around 150,000 monthly page views, over 10,000 subscribers, a reputation as a great resource and advocate for marriage and family, and is one of the largest marriage focused sites on the Internet.

Here’s My Idea & How You Can Benefit

EM is hiring writers!When Engaged Marriage started way back in 2009, it was intended purely as a single-author blog that shared my personal experiences and insights on marriage and family.

Through over 300 posts, I’ve been able to share a lot and will continue to for as long as you’ll have me.

However, I think it’s time to expand the voice of the site and get some new writers “engaged” with this growing community.  As I’ll outline below, new perspectives are very welcome yet we’ll continue to provide content that supports the ideals of Engaged Marriage and what we stand for.

I think the best way to accomplish this is to hire several monthly columnists.

I want these columns to be from other bloggers who can be exposed to the Engaged Marriage audience, and hopefully receive some new traffic and community-building back to their main site.

These columns need to be insanely useful – one of the goals of Engaged Marriage content.  I love that people come here to read useful, applicable information, then work to apply it to their lives and relationships.

I need these new monthly columns to be the same.

With that in mind, I will pay each columnist $25 per column published.  Not much, I know, but it’s some extra date night cash and a reward for time spent on writing quality content.  And if you’re looking to grow your own blog, you know that the larger value here is the exposure and links back to your site/projects (included with every one of your posts).

The Topics

With the addition of new columnists, I will be able to expand the depth of some key topics on Engaged Marriage a bit and add a few. I’m in search of three to five columnists interested in one of these topics:

  • Sex and Intimacy – real, practical ways to keep the spark alive and have better married sex
  • Home Life/Family Fun and Crafts  – think of these posts as small how-to projects that the Pinterest crowd will love
  • Parenting – real-world parenting advice
  • Money and Career – one of my passions but we need more posts with a how-to and inspiring story flair
  • Romance and Date Nights – practical advice/ideas for keeping the passion burning when you feel like you have no time
  • Help for Troubled Marriages – this is one area where a counselor would make a wonderful addition to our team

If you’re wondering about the style of posts that work best, check out the popular posts in the sidebar – these are the all-time most viewed posts.

Interested?

Since I can obviously only hire a few writers, I’m going to have the tough job of selecting the new columnists.  If you’d like to be considered, here’s what I’ll need from you:

• A guest post of around 500-1000 words (this is just a ballpark…).  Please edit it as though it’s a final copy – proofread, aligned properly in HTML, grammatically-correct, and so on.

• At least one accompanying photo for the post.  The photo needs to be properly credited, and legal to use.

• A 1-2 sentence bio about you that links to at least one of your sites.  It can be as serious or as fun as you like.

• Let me know which column position you’re interested in.

• Let me know if you have social media following and how many followers you have – the ideal candidate will share each of their posts on social media.

Please send me your article’s text in a simple program like Text Edit or Notepad, or in Google Docs (Microsoft Word works but is not preferred).  Send me your photos as an attachment.  No need to host them, unless you want to.

And this isn’t a requirement, but feel free to link me to some of your previous writing, so that I can peruse it and see what you’re about.

Also, in case you’re wondering, you don’t have to be a therapist to qualify. If you have an interest, feel free to send something in.  You can also comment below and I’ll respond to any questions you have.

Deadline

Please send me your guest post by Sunday, May 5th by sending an email to dustin (at) engagedmarriage (dot) com with the subject line WRITING FOR EM.  If I end up not selecting you for one of the column positions, I still may be up for publishing your article as a one-time guest post.  Let’s see how it goes!

Questions?  Just ask in the comments below (or by email if it needs to remain private)!

Apr 26

Quality vs. Quantity – The Paradox of Our Time

By Dustin | Time Management

The Paradox of Our TimeI was reading my buddy J. Money’s blog over at Budgets Are Sexy this morning, and he had a short poem/essay that really drove home something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

It’s called “The Paradox of Time” and I think it speaks volumes about our culture today (at least here in the USA).

However, I think there’s a more important message for you personally in this.

Please take a moment to read these words by Dr. Bob Moorehead, and I’ll share my thoughts after:

THE PARADOX OF OUR TIME

We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints
We spend more, but we have less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families
More conveniences, but less time.
We have more degrees, but less sense
More knowledge, but less judgement
More experts, but more problems
More medicines, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often
We have learnt how to make a living, but not a life.
We have added years to life, but not life to years.
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back
But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.
We have conquered outer space, but not inner space.
We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted our soul.
We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We’ve higher incomes, but lower morals.
We’ve become long on quantity but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men, and short character;
Steep profits, and shallow relationships.
These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare,
More leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes, but more divorces;
Of fancier houses, but broken homes.
It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this [message] to you
And a time when you can choose
Either to make a difference …. or just hit [ignore it].

If you’re like me, you probably found yourself nodding along as you read each line.  There’s no question that our society has seen major shifts in what we value and how we measure our worth.

You can’t really control that…

…so what CAN you do about it?

Well, you can make better choices in your own life and place higher value on your relationships.  You can be proactive in loving your husband or wife.  You can choose to value quality over quantity.

In short, you can get away from the idea of just getting more stuff done and instead focus on doing more of what matters in your life.

This of course is easier said than done, but you can make it happen.  And I want to help.

As you may know, I’m working hard behind the scenes right now on a new program called Time to THRIVE for Family Leaders.

I’m SO excited to see years of work coming together in a resource that not only helps busy couples find more time but leads you to use your time to enjoy more of the truly important things in life.

The first training for this course will be released in about two weeks, and I’d love to share it with you. If you think you can benefit from more time, better focus and a sense of fulfillment from how you lead your family, please click here to sign up to be notified when we go live.

Apr 21

How to Keep Job Stress from Ruining Your Marriage

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

job stress and marriageNote: This is a guest post from Betsy Alvarez.

No doubt, a successful marriage requires a lot of hard work at times.

While getting married may seem simple, staying married can often be a challenge.

If you and your spouse want to spend the rest of your lives together, there are certainly things you can do to help your relationship remain healthy for many years to come.

Unfortunately, though, sometimes outside influences can cause trouble.

One outside influence that can majorly affect the health of a marriage is job-related stress.  If job-related stress is affecting your relationship, here are some things you can do to make sure your love remains strong during this trying time.

Leave Work At Work

One great way to stop job stress from affecting your home life is by leaving your work at the office.

Leaving your work at the office involves more than just not checking work email or doing work at home, though. It also involves forgetting about work as much as possible when you are spending time at home with your family.

Talk To Your Spouse

Great communication is one of the most important factors in a successful marriage.

If you are able to talk to your partner about anything, the two of you will have a healthier marriage. When work-related stress is causing friction in your marriage, make sure your spouse knows.

If you are lashing out at your significant other because of work stress, make sure he or she understands not to take it personally. Also, getting things off your chest by talking is a great way to alleviate stress.

Spend Time Together

Even if you have a job that requires 80 hours of work a week, make sure you always spend time with your spouse.

Even if it is something as simple as spending an hour a week at your favorite coffee shop, spending quality time together with your spouse can help stop work related stress from ruining your marriage.

Ask For Help

If you really want to stop job-related stress from ruining your marriage, you might need to ask for help.

From asking your boss to lessen your workload so you do not have to work so much overtime to seeking out the help of a counselor or psychiatrist, you never have to allow work-related stress to destroy your marriage.

While your job is important, your marriage is more important.

That’s why you need to find ways to help stop job stress from destroying your marriage. If you find that stress is negatively impacting your connection with your spouse, following these tips can help give you and your husband or wife a better relationship.

From spending time together to keeping the lines of communication open, there are effective ways to stop job related stress from ruining your relationship with your spouse.

I’d like to hear about your experiences with job stress – please share a comment below letting us know one tip you’ve found helpful for dealing with work-related stress in your marriage.

Betsy Alvarez writes about relationships and familial strategies – her recent work is about her journey earning an online family counseling degree.

Apr 18

Why Balancing Your Time is a Lie & What to Do Instead

By Dustin | Time Management

I received an email last week from a woman who was really upset.

She’s a devoted wife and Mom of two kids under the age of four.  On all accounts, her family is doing well, yet she was really down on herself and her lack of “control” when it came to how she spends her time.

She shared a few of the many important things she needs to do on a weekly basis and explained how it’s a real struggle to find BALANCE with her time and energy.

I recorded a short video to take on the issue of “being balanced” and what you should actually focus on:

 [leadplayer_vid id=”516FEA1E08DDC”]

(click here if you can’t see the video)

Click here to get signed up for the Time to Thrive notification list and receive lots of helpful free training!

If you prefer to read, here’s a transcript:

“Hey guys, Dustin Riechmann from Engaged Marriage here.

I want to spend a few minutes talking about a really important topic that I’m sure you can relate to.

It’s about this idea of BALANCE.  Sometimes it’s called work-life balance, or personal-family balance.  We’re told we need BALANCE in our lives to be happy…

…but I’m here to tell you that it’s a LIE.

Happy families do not have balance.  They have BOUNDARIES.  Let me explain.

In the lives we live today as busy Family Leaders, no two days are typically the same and no two weeks are definitely the same.  Between the demands of trying to share quality time with our spouse, raise our kids, work, attend any number of evening activities, exercise, take care of the house, contribute to our community, hang out with our friends, enjoy hobbies…well you get the idea.

If you tried to maintain balance between all your responsibilities, you’d not only go crazy, you’d fail.  But the good news is it’s really not important.

At this stage in your life, don’t worry about this myth of balance.  Instead, set healthy boundaries, stick to them as much as possible and you’ll enjoy an awesome family life.

By boundaries, I mean you set both space but especially time boundaries.  You have work time, spouse time, kid time and so forth.  These are planned ahead and agreed upon with your family.

This may seem subtle, but it’s incredibly freeing and really powerful.  Spouse time is not work time, so you can put your phone away and actually have a focused conversation with your husband or wife.  Kid time is not chore time (at least not always), so you can play with dolls now, fully present, and take care of paying bills later.

Multi-tasking doesn’t work and it cheats both you and your loved ones.

You may think you don’t have time to use boundaries in your busy life.  The truth is you don’t have time NOT to, and you’re wasting so many wonderful opportunities right now if you’re trying to be balanced.

I have much more to share with you about setting great boundaries and using your time for what matters most.

If this is something that interests you, please enter your email below to learn more about a new program and FREE tools I’m sharing to help Family Leaders get control of their schedule and focus on what matters most.  It’s called Time to THRIVE, and I know you’ll love it.  I’ll see you there!”

Click here to get signed up for the Time to Thrive notification list and receive lots of helpful free training!

How Do You Handle Balance vs. Boundaries?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  Please share your experiences with finding “balance” and whether you’ve instead tried to set up boundaries with your time.  How has each worked for you and your family?

Apr 11

How to Run a Half Marathon (or accomplish other big things) When You Have No Time

By Dustin | Time Management

How to Run a Half Marathon When You Have No TimeI’m so proud of my wife Bethany.

Last weekend, she completed the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon.  That’s 13.1 miles even though the furthest she’d ran before starting her training was 3 miles.

And she didn’t just finish the race – her results were quite impressive.

She did so well in fact that I’m a little embarrassed to share it with you. I’ll share that story at the end of this post.

For now, let’s take a look at what lead Bethany to this weekend and why it’s important to you and your marriage.

60+ Hours of Training for a Mom of Three?

As you might imagine, running 13.1 miles in the hills of St. Louis is no small feat.

In fact, the preparation included workouts four times every week for the past 16 weeks.  Yep, Bethany’s been running 3-13 miles at a time four days a week since December (also, St. Louis is cold in the winter – she’s tough like that).

And get this – she didn’t miss a single workout!

Keep in mind that we have kids that are 8, 5 and 2 1/2 years old complete with the many, many, many activities and plenty of sicknesses that come with them.  Needless to say, we’re a very busy young family and Bethany does more than her fair share on the home front.

Wait, What was Dad Doing?

If Mom’s spending hours every week training for a race, then Dad must be picking up the slack and making up for these lost hours, right?  Not so much.

Dustin after Half MarathonHere’s the kicker that you may have guessed from our photo – I ran the race, too!

I also trained on the same schedule for the past 16 weeks.  And since our 2 1/2 year old is not the least bit able to care for herself, our training was never at the same time, and we never hired a sitter to train.

So, this goal we shared ended up taking us more than 10 hours each week to train for, and that doesn’t count sessions of stretching, icing, foam rolling or general malaise after a really tough training session.

This was 10 hours inside of an already busy weekly schedule.  In fact, I’m sure our lives are much like yours.

I have a full-time professional career as an engineer plus I do some teaching at a University, we have lots of children’s activities, we’re active in our church and community, and we like to hang out with our friends and family as much as possible.

We also have some other time commitments that aren’t as typical – I run two small businesses (here at Engaged Marriage and over at Fit Marriage), my Dad was very sick and passed away in the middle of our training, and I’ve also been working on an awesome new project that I can’t wait to share with you (more on that in a minute).

Put simply, we’re busy folks. 🙂

Seriously, How Do You Find the Time?

It seems like I’ve been asked this question a hundred times the last four months.

Bethany After Half MarathonThe honest answer is that finding time to do what matters is never easy, especially at this stage in life as a Family Leader.

If you take a leadership role in your family (and I bet you do if you’re reading this), then you know exactly what it’s like.

Your schedule is crazy, you always put yourself last, and you spend too many days feeling out of control, stressed and maybe even a little overwhelmed.

Well, getting control of your schedule and creating more margin in your life is not easy, but it’s totally worth it.

You may not want to run a half marathon, but I bet you would like to have more time in your life to do what matters most to you.

This could be as simple as spending more time with your kids, dating your spouse as often as you’d like, starting a side business, losing weight, getting your house organized, paying off debt, getting closer to God…you get the idea.

It doesn’t matter – the process is the same.

It’s Not About the Running – It’s About the Time

I lead a pilot program earlier this year (yes, while training for this run!) with 16 other busy Family Leaders.  These 16 individuals had 16 different outcomes that they were looking to achieve during our 30 days together.

However, they all had a few things in common.  They felt like their schedules were already full and they didn’t think they had the control or margin needed to achieve anything new (even if they really wanted t0) – BUT they all decided to trust in a process.

I’m proud to say that this group made it happen, and I continue to hear about their ongoing success stories several months later.

From paying off debt to writing a book to starting a piano lesson business to getting a home happy and organized to rekindling a relationship with Jesus, these 16 people from all corners of the country and the world enjoyed some exceptional achievements.

But their biggest accomplishment wasn’t in their specific outcomes over 30 days – it was in their renewed sense of control and powerful new tools that will allow them to continue doing what matters most for them and their families for the rest of their lives.

I’ll share more of their stories at another time, but I wanted to highlight them briefly here because the process they followed is the exact same thing that Bethany and I used to train for our half marathon.

No, they weren’t running in the snow like us, but they did follow the same step-by-step plan that I’m going to share with you.

Introducing Time to THRIVE

I got the idea for the pilot group late last year after I kept getting asked how I got so many things done.

I had a process that I’d used for several years that I would go to every time I started to feel stressed out about my schedule or when I decided to pursue a new goal (these often come at the same time for me).  Bethany had adopted it as well.

I knew the process worked for us and with other coaching clients in the past.  But I wanted to refine it, make it super simple to follow and ensure that even the busiest Family Leaders would benefit from it.

The process follows six simple steps that conveniently spell the acronym THRIVE.  Here’s an overview and a little commentary of how we used it to prepare for our recent training demands:

1. Target

This is simply focusing in one specific area that you want to improve in your life.  If your struggling to decide where to start, that’s very common and we have some great tools to help.

In our case, we both settled on improving our physical fitness.

2. Harness

This second step is all about harnessing motivation and getting your mindset right.  Most people never do this, and it causes them to quit before reaching their goals (New Year’s Resolutions, anyone?)

In our case, our Harness steps looked very different.  We both wanted to get physically fit, but we the reasons Why (and our motivations) were not really related.  This is a great example why it’s important to follow this process individually – even when you’re married and following the same workout plan!

3. Roadmap

This is where the rubber meets the road and things start to get really practical.  In this step, we set specific goals for weekly actions that we’ll take along with monthly measurements and longer-term performance goals.

For Bethany and I, our weekly goals (actions) were identical and related to our training plan.  Our monthly measurements (running speed and body weight) were also similar.  Our performance goals were focused on the race…more on that below. 🙂

4. Identify

This is the most important step, yet it can’t be done alone or you will fail.  This is the nitty gritty of breaking down your schedule to identify where you’ll actually find the time to do the weekly goals you set in step 3.

Your grandpa or boss may call this Time Management, but the way we handle it goes much further, is less boring and it just plain works better.  Doing this step will give you back at least 30 minutes each day.

This was a biggie for us with all we have going on in our lives and the fact that we’d have to find time to train separately.  This was actually the first time Bethany made the effort to track how she was spending her time, and I think she’s hooked!

5. eVolve

I LOVE this step – it’s all about becoming super-productive.  From more basic (and vitally important) tools like batching tasks, email management and focused work time to a choose-your-favorites menu of productivity tools driven by technology, completing your eVolution will give you another 30 minutes each day to do what you love.

I am a productivity junkie, so not much changed for me on this front.  Bethany incorporated some new task-batching practices that freed up a nice chunk of time for her without sacrificing any time with the kids (or me!).

6. Empower

In this step, you learn how to have long-term success and continue to build healthy habits that will empower you for life.  After all, achieving a goal in 30 days (or however long you desire) is awesome, but you truly change your family tree when you master accountability, plug into supportive communities and begin to teach those you love how to get more from life.

In our case, this has simply become how we live.  The great thing is that as you repeat this process a few times, it becomes second nature and completely repeatable – and teachable.  The time crunches and stress still come, but you know how to deal with them so you can get control and push ahead to achieve new things.

I know that’s a pretty brief overview, but I obviously can’t cover what is typically 30 days of step-by-step instruction in a single blog post.

The good news is that I’m working hard right now on some training that you will be able to use to get control of your busy schedule and gain an extra hour every day to do what matters most in your life.

And with your new time and fresh mindset, you’ll be able to achieve any goal that you’ve had on the back burner for too long.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be releasing several training videos along with other tools you can put into action right away.  And as a thank-you for being part of this community, I want to give you a chance to get signed up for FREE access.

Simply CLICK HERE to head over to the all-new Time to THRIVE site to reserve your spot in our free training! Plus, you’ll get an early-bird discount when the full course opens next month.

Time to Thrive

I Can’t Believe I’m Making This Public.

So…about those race results…

I had set a goal for myself of finishing the race in under 2 hours.  Bethany, being much less Type A than me, didn’t have a specific time in mind – or at least she didn’t share it with me.

With 15,000 runners participating, the race started in different flights so we never saw each other during the race after we kissed and headed for our respective starting areas.  The next time I saw Bethany she was sucking wind at the finish line.

Thanks to the wonders of iPhone, our results were posted and viewable right away.  I was pretty happy to see I had finished in 2:00:06 – six (damn) seconds over my goal time.

Right above my time, I see 1:59:41 – and Bethany Riechmann next to it.

In her first half marathon, Bethany finished in the top 15% of all females and she beat me by 25 seconds!

It turns out that my time put me in the top 25% of the field, so at least I have that going for me. 🙂

We’re both training for several more races this summer, including my first triathlon.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments about the goals you’re currently pursuing or maybe have been putting off for too long.

Keep in mind that it’s not about just getting more things done each day, but doing more of what matters to you.  Your family and your marriage will thank you for making it happen.

P.S. – Don’t forget to sign up for the all-new Time to THRIVE for Family Leaders!  I’ll be sharing some awesome free training in the next few weeks – and you’ll get an early-bird discount on the full course when it opens next month.

Apr 06

Is Alcohol Use an Issue in Your Marriage?

By Dustin | Communication

Alcohol Use in MarriageNote from Dustin: The abuse of alcohol has had a major impact in my life, mostly through my Dad’s struggles

When CJ – a Ph.D. candidate at Clark University – approached me to help spread the word about this issue and also give the opportunity for our community to contribute to a research survey on alcohol use in marriage, I was happy to welcome him.  Here’s CJ…

Most theoretical work on substance abuse in relationships suggests that alcohol use and marital distress have a reciprocal relationship.

On one hand, relationship dysfunction can create a stressful environment that increases a partner’s chances of having alcohol use problems. In the other direction, substance abuse has been shown to potentially be harmful to relationship health.

Couples in which at least one partner has an alcohol use problem have lower levels of satisfaction, higher levels of verbal and physical aggression, more steps towards divorce, less sexual satisfaction, and higher levels of psychological problems in children.

On a positive note, a supportive partner plays a major role on the road to recovery, and can have an important influence on a person’s decision to seek help for issues with alcohol.

While some couples may struggle with “heavy” drinking (drinking more than 4 drinks a day or more than 14 drinks per week for men; drinking more than 3 drinks a day or more than 7 drinks a week for women), other couples may disagree when a partner consumes just one drink.

Regardless of the level of consumption, there are many options available for couples who are struggling with alcohol use.

There are a number of online forums and support websites, as well as many self-help books in various forms.

For those seeking more in-depth assistance, Alcoholics Anonymous (and Al-Anon for families) are available in addition to other similar treatment programs conducted through local health care facilities.

For those seeking to work through alcohol problems as a couple, there is an empirically validated therapy called Behavioral Couples Therapy for Substance Abuse that addresses both substance-focused issues, such as reducing risk and creating a recovery contract, as well as effectively communicating each partner’s concerns and feelings.

Help Find a Solution for Alcohol Problems in Marriage

If you and your spouse disagree about alcohol use, please consider taking the survey below.  My name is CJ and this survey is a part of my dissertation, which focuses on the role of a partner in a person’s decision to seek help for alcohol use issues.

My study is designed for couples in which one partner drinks and the other partner is concerned about that person’s drinking to some extent.

I would greatly appreciate your support of my research. More information and the link are below.

Participate in a survey on couples and alcohol use and enter to win a raffle!

Are you and your spouse legally married (or in a civil union) and at least 18 years of age?

Have you or your partner consumed alcoholic beverages in the last 6 months?

Is alcohol use an area of disagreement in your marriage?

If you answered yes to the above questions, you and your spouse are eligible to participate in a research survey regarding the relationship between your marriage and your alcohol-related help seeking behaviors. When you complete the survey, you will each be entered into a raffle for one of four $50 Amazon.com gift cards!

The survey will take each participant approximately 20 minutes, and survey responses will be anonymous.

Start Survey Here:

https://surveys.clarku.edu/AlcoholUseSurveyStart.aspx

This study has been approved by the Clark Committee for the Rights of Human Participants in Research and Training Programs (IRB). Any questions about human rights issues should be directed to the IRB Chair, Dr. James P. Elliott, 508-793-7152, jelliott@clarku.edu. The study is being conducted by C.J. Fleming, M.A. and James Cordova, Ph.D. in the Psychology Department at Clark University. Please feel free to contact the researcher ( alcoholusesurveyemail@gmail.com ) or the research supervisor ( jcordova@clarku.edu ) with any questions or concerns.

Alcohol in Marriage Survey