Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sep 27

Top 5 Money Fights & How to Avoid Them in Your Marriage

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

Note from Dustin: This post comes to us courtesy of Ann Arceo of Savvy Duo Financial Planning.  Ann is an EM fan, and I LOVE the money help that she provides to couples – I am proud to recommend that you contact Ann for a free consultation. 

I think her post shows you just how well she understands the financial struggles we face as married couples!  Be sure to share your thoughts or questions in the comments below…now let me turn it over to Ann…

Top 5 Money Fights & How to Avoid Them in Your MarriageIt’s no wonder that money is the number one cause of arguments among married couples, as money has enough power over us to be considered the root of all evil.

Money isn’t inherently good or bad — it’s just paper. What money represents to us individually is the issue that can cause problems.

Let’s learn more about the five most common money fights affecting couples, and how you can avoid them in your marriage:

1. My spouse controls all the money, and I’m left in the dark.

It’s dangerous for one partner to control all the finances, as marriage is about partnership.  Even if one spouse is better with numbers, you both need to have a clear understanding of your total financial picture.  If you both know where you’re at financially, and where you want to go, you can make decisions together as a team.

Solution: Schedule monthly “Money Dates” with your partner. Use the time to review your spending, savings, and big picture money goals. If talking about money leads to arguments, hire a financial planner who can help you determine if you’re on the right track financially.

2. We don’t agree on how much money to spend on the kids.

This argument is more likely to happen when one parent is in charge of the household shopping and the other one only sees the statements. These fights will be even more dramatic if one spouse is a natural saver and the other is a spender.

Solution: Switch shopping roles and have your spouse do the shopping for a couple weeks, so they can see how much items really cost. You can then sit down and brainstorm the best way to shop and save money in the future. Remember, you’re on the same team, and you both just want what’s best for your kids.

3. I love to shop, but my spouse is a saver.  

A healthy marriage is based on trust which means couples shouldn’t micro-manage each other’s every purchase. It’s also important that one spouse’s spending habits don’t sabotage the couple’s financial goals.

Solution: Set a spending limit. Choose an amount that you and your partner can each spend per month without having to talk to one another other first. If the potential purchase is more than your spending limit, talk about it first. Remember to be flexible and open, and listen to each other’s points of view.

4. I have debt, but my spouse doesn’t. We can’t agree on how to pay it off.

It can be difficult to decide the best way to handle old debt, especially when one spouse comes into the marriage debt free. It’s important to fully disclose your financial situation and make a plan together.

Solution: Stop thinking in terms of “yours” and “mine.” You’re married now and that means your financial lives are merging. If your spouse is paying interest on old debt, that’s less money the two of you can save for the future. Sit down together and add up all of your debt and savings.   Make a plan to pay off the debt quickly and start working on your financial goals together.

5. I’m very conservative, but my partner is a risk taker.

Being opposites isn’t always bad because it can help you to have balance.  After all, you’re not likely to reach your big picture financial goals by hiding your money under a mattress or by gambling it away in Vegas. However, you do need to take on a certain amount of “smart” risk in order to earn enough of a return to reach your money goals.

Solution: Find the balance between the conservative in you and the risk taker in your spouse. This is where a financial planner can help. A financial planner can assist you in determining a “smart” level of risk that will allow you to both feel comfortable.

Merging love and money isn’t always easy, but we can help. At Savvy Duo Financial Planning, Inc. we help couples tackle topics such as creating a shared budget, investing, saving for a child’s education, and planning for retirement. We act as your money coach and financial planner, providing you and your partner the objective guidance and advice you need to reach your financial goals.

Based in Los Angeles, we work virtually with couples throughout the country.  Contact us today to schedule a free 30 Minute Introductory Meeting at

Sep 25

Organize Your Closet Shelves for under $25!

By Mary Beth Foster | Household Management

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Sharing space with your spouse isn’t always easy.  Good organization is key to keeping you both sane and helping your home run smoothly.  Here’s an easy way to organize your shelves.  The best part?  It will only cost you $24.99.

I’ve been on a mission lately to organize my master bedroom closet.  I was sick and tired of my shelves looking like this.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

I’d seen a lot of neat ideas on Pinterest for dividing your shelves into smaller compartments that house neatly folded stacks of shirts and sweaters, but most of the products I found on the market for subdividing shelves (like these from The Container Store or these from were constructed for use with solid, wooden shelves, not the wire shelving commonly found in closets.  Another limiting factor was the price.  At anywhere from $6.99 to $24.48 for a set of two dividers, costs had the potential to add up pretty quickly if I wanted enough dividers for all my shelves.

Use wire storage cubes

Target sells the Closetmaid 6-cube wire organizer in white for $24.99.  If you don’t like that color or brand, you can find a wide variety of options by searching “wire storage cubes” on

Here’s what you’ll find inside the box.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

It’s meant to be assembled like this.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Instead of creating cubes, use the wire grid squares and plastic connectors to create a series of u-shapes.  You’re just creating bottoms and sides; you don’t need backs or tops for the purposes of dividing your shelves.  That means you’ll get a lot of mileage out of one 6-cube set.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Move your dividers into the closet

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Depending on how many wire grids you link together, it might get a little unstable.  I was able to move a set of four into the closet with little trouble; I added the fifth and last compartment after I’d gotten it into position on the shelf.  If you’re worried about stability or maneuvering your creation through the door, it’s not difficult to do your “construction” in the closet.

Doesn’t it create unusable space in the corner?

If your shelves round a corner like mine do, then yes, you will cage in an unusable square in the corner.  However, it’s only about a square foot of unusable space.  Throw something there that you don’t use very often.  We pile up old Halloween costumes there.

organize your closet shelves for under $25

Stack your folded clothes and enjoy your organized shelf

organize your closet shelves for under $25

It’s amazing how much more organized $25.00 of wire shelving can make your closet.  Believe it or not, that’s the exact same amount of clothing in the before and after photos; it’s just much better organized.

If you enjoyed this post, check out last month’s 4 Ways to Improve Your Master Closet.

What clever ideas have you come up with to organize your home without blowing the bank?

Sep 23

Troubled Marriages and Technology: Part 1 of 2

By E.J. Smith | Communication

ID-10098766When I asked friends and fans on my facebook page what type of content my September article needed to cover, the response was overwhelmingly in favor of discussing the challenge of balancing one’s tech-savvy nature with a relationship-nurturing home environment.

While doing my research for this article, I found a ton of blog posts, online magazine articles, and even scholarly research examining the topic and offering several solutions such as “taking time to unplug”, or instituting a “no talking on the phone as your walk through the door” rule.  These are fantastic suggestions.

Seriously.  As soon as you finish reading this article, you should definitely go over to Disengaging from Your Cell Phone  to check out some of the simple ways you can start setting healthy boundaries for technology in your families.

For my purpose today, we’re going to focus on 2 ways that technology can really screw up your relationships.

So lets start with perhaps the most common:

1) Social Media:  (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Instagram and one I just found out about yesterday, Snap Chat)

We all know that social media is a fantastic way to keep connected to old friends.  As a military spouse, I’ve lived all over the country and have friends that I love to keep in touch with from “back home”, and from the many “homes” I’ve had over the years. And with advances in technology, I can keep in touch with these people from just about anywhere via my phone, tablet, and laptop.

That being said, there’s no denying that having instant access to so many “blasts from the past” as well as complete strangers, can potentially spell trouble.  For one, let’s get rid of the notion that cheating is always a “big production”.

When we’re talking about emotional cheating (what I would argue is the precursor to every other form of cheating), it often appears in little, perhaps even seemingly innocent conversations.  There are too many examples to give you here.

How to Avoid Trouble: As a general rule consider the following – if you wouldn’t say it or type it with your spouse watching, it’s probably not something you should be saying or typing.  If it really is as “innocent” as you keep telling yourself that it is, it wouldn’t matter who was around or reading it.  This goes for coworkers, friends, past relationships and more.

And while we’re talking about it:  Those passive aggressive facebook statuses– how “someone didn’t do the dishes” or how “it must be so nice to live in a house that magically gets cleaned every week”–  aren’t helping your marriage either.

2) CyberSex – Pornography, Chat Rooms and the like…

Like it or not, one of the byproducts of technology on the web has been an explosion of access to sexual content.  If you can think of it, and it’s sexual… the Internet already has it available for your viewing.  It makes sense, if you think about it.

Our culture doesn’t like to talk about sex—it’s still taboo for most polite conversation.  The web offers anonymity like we’ve never experienced before.  All of a sudden, there is seemingly unlimited access with equally few consequences.

In working with clients, I have spent some time  learning about sex addiction and behaviors on the Internet.  What’s remarkable is near universal justification for the behavior:  It’s not a real person, therefore, it’s not cheating1.

Even the spouses of people engaged in cybersexual activities often offered this same rationalization.  At the same time, however, they couldn’t shake the feeling of having been “cheated” in some way.

This is usually where I introduce what I believe to be the best definition of cheating that I’ve heard to date: cheating is the investment of energy (physical, mental, emotional, financial) in outside sources for personal fulfillment that would normally be directed towards your spouse, partner or family.

Many clients, upon hearing that definition agree with it.  They feel robbed of some part of their marriage.  And while a full explanation of the emotional destruction that can occur in both partners is beyond the scope of this article, simply stated, both partners suffer greatly.

How to Avoid Trouble:  Now this is not the article where I tell you what should or shouldn’t be going on in your marriage.  That is your covenant.  What I do get to tell you is that if you haven’t had the explicit discussion about personal boundaries, comfort level, acceptability, etc… regarding pornography/cybersex with your partner—it might be a good time to check in and make sure you’re both on the same page.

And please do not fall into the trap of thinking that other prudent behaviors can serve as indicators that this conversation is unnecessary.

I recently spoke with the wife of a pastor at a local parish who disclosed to me that among church leaders in our area, one of the leading concerns is how to deal with the issue of cybersex, as it seems to have greatly influenced the even some of the most seemingly devout populations.

Have the conversation.  Honest communication is #1 in cultivating healthy relationships.  Have the conversation.

Phew… that was a heavy one wasn’t it?

Next month, in Part 2, I promise to lighten things up when I give you several ways that technology can enhance the one-on-one work that you’re doing with your spouse to help rejuvenate your marriage!

In the mean time, let me know what you think of the issues presented above.  Also, if you’re someone whose marriage has been in trouble in the past, and you’ve found a way to use technology to help it get back on track—I want to hear from you!


Photo courtesy of and Adamr

1 – Carnes, P. (2001). Out of the Shadows. Center City, MN: Hazelden. 



Sep 18

Romance In Marriage Is Easier Than You Think

By Debi Walter | Communication , Romance

Photo courtesy of Stock Images by

Photo courtesy of Stock Images by

You can always spot those couples who enjoy a romantic relationship. They’re the ones who sit close together in restaurants as they talk quietly with their eyes intently focused on each other. They’re the ones who have a sparkle in their voice when they speak of their spouse. And they are the ones you know enjoy being together just by the way they look when you see them.

How do they do it? What makes their marriage so attractive, while other couples seem to be bored?

The answer is easier than you might expect. They are intentional about romancing their spouse. What do you think of when you think of the word romance? If you think it’s only a feeling you would be missing a large part of what it means to be romantic. Romance is simply this–being intentional in expressing your love for your spouse in a variety of ways.

Here is a short list of those ways:

  • How you think of your spouse
  • How you talk about your spouse
  • How you speak with them
  • How you treat them in public and in private
  • How you honor and respect them for who they are
  • Remembering the things you love most about them, rather than focusing on their weaknesses.

Being intentional in these ways will communicate your love to your spouse on a regular basis. And they don’t even have to know you’re being intentional. Let them be the beneficiary of this kind of attention without you pointing it out. Guaranteed your marriage will grow more romantic as a result.

On The Romantic Vineyard we did a post defining Romance by making the following acrostic:

R emembering your wedding vows!  Talk often about what you promised from the beginning and evaluate how you are doing.

O utdoing one another in showing acts of kindness.  This is our Biblical motivation!

M aintaining a clear conscience.  Confessing sin and offering forgiveness quickly mends those broken fences.

A ttuning to each others wants, needs, desires and dreams (this makes for the best date nights).

N ever using “never” and/or “always” in communicating grievances

C ommunicating regularly about your life together.  This means talking and listening.

E xpectations must be held lightly.  Life interrupts the best made plans, and we must give and take when this happens.

As you can see, romance is so much more than a feeling you get when you’re together.

Feelings are fickle and they can’t be trusted. A marriage built only on how we feel will not succeed. Romance and love are decisions we make. It’s how we choose to relate as husband and wife. And why should we be intentionally romantic? Why is romance so important? We believe it fills a marriage with joy. It reflects the enjoyment Christ has in the Father and the Father has in the Son. When we romance our spouse we are placing them in the place of honor where we cherish them with all of our heart, mind and soul.

Next month, we’ll share some ideas on what romance looks like practically in a busy marriage. For now just work on being intentional in expressing love and honor to your husband or wife. You have 30 days to see what this one change will do to improve your relationship. And please, let us know. We all need the encouragement to grow in this area, and nothing helps more than hearing the successes of others.



Sep 16

Is There Hope for Your Sex-Starved Marriage?

By Julie Sibert | General , Sex & Family Planning

Is there hope for a sex-starved marriageThe request seemed rather ludicrous from where I was sitting.

I stared at my computer screen and read the email from a gentleman asking if I could write lyrics to a song that he then was going to have recorded by amateurs and played at his daughter’s wedding.

“Are you crazy?!” is what I wanted to say.

But that seemed slightly rude. And he did want to pay me, so I thought I would let him down gently.

I diplomatically pounded out the sentence, “You know I’m not a songwriter, right?”

“I know!  But you are so talented.  I just know you can do this!” he enthusiastically pleaded.  (He was naively confident in my skills. Obviously.)

He assured me that it wouldn’t be that hard, because it wouldn’t be like starting from scratch.  He wanted me to use the music to an existing song, and simply change the words to be more personalized for his daughter and future son-in-law.

Despite his deep endearment and tender heart motive, I pretty much wanted nothing to do with writing (uh… re-writing) this song. But he pleaded.  He’s a nice guy, who happens to pay well, so I gave in and set to work to tackle this monumental undertaking.

I’m guessing by now, you are wondering, “What does this have to do with hope and my sex-starved marriage?” (Okay, you were probably wondering that eight paragraphs ago, but I’m getting there).

Initially, I thought writing that song — creating this treasured experience for this man and his family — was impossible.  It seemed beyond me.  It seemed painfully unfamiliar and foreign and awkward to even try.

That’s exactly how a lot of people feel about healing what is sexually wrong in their marriage.

They have allowed their intimacy (sexual and otherwise) to get stuck in neutral for a painfully long time — or have haphazardly built sex upon a shaky foundation of skewed theology, brash manipulation and wearisome monotony.

Is there hope for things to look different, though?

As someone who writes and speaks about sex, I have discovered along the way that there is hope for many of the marriages where on the surface it seems like there is none.

A husband and a wife can indeed find their way back to —  or create for the first time — healthier patterns in their intimacy.  This is especially true if the the two people in the marriage are willing to at least take baby steps in that direction — scary and awkward as that may seem.

What helped me write that song is what may help you infuse your sex-starved marriage with hope.  Here are three suggestions:

1. Get out of the camp of “impossible.”

Maybe you have believed for a long time that authentic and profound sexual intimacy is just not possible for your marriage.  “Perhaps for other people,” you think to yourself. “But not for us.”

That sort of thinking has got to take a hike.   2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

The Lord’s Word is clear that sex is His gift for married couples, meant not only to create children, but also to bring a husband and wife pleasure, strengthen their marriage, and allow them to experience mysteriously profound one-flesh connection.  That is truth and it is worth embracing.

2. Break things down into manageable steps.

When I wrote that song, I had to first make sure that the words I was going to write would coordinate with the music. Remember, I was working within the structure of the existing song.

So what did I do?

I took the original words and figured out how many syllables were in each line of the song.  I then could map out my own words that matched the syllable count.

If you want to build healthier sexual intimacy into your marriage, you’d be wise to see it as a journey, rather than a one-time decision.  Every marriage is unique, but here are a few “steps” that you may want to explore in your situation…

Are there past issues you need to address and/or heal from?

How can you make more space in your schedule for connecting as a couple with your clothes on? Great sex is often a natural byproduct of a great emotional friendship with your spouse. (This technique might help).

How can you have more foreplay and communication about what you each like? (If sex is pleasurable for both of you, it’s more likely you will want to have it).

How can you take ownership and ask for forgiveness for ways you’ve been careless with sex?

How can you find ways to better communicate as a couple? 

I can’t write the steps for you, but if the two of you seek them out, you will move toward more nurtured sexual intimacy.   You have to be willing to walk in that direction, though.

3. Adjust often and build upon what works.

Honestly, it took me awhile to get that song right.  I had to look at it, try different things and revisit it often before I felt like I was on the right track (no pun intended).

The same is true of sex in your marriage. Don’t be quick to give up or get defensive, but instead, walk in humility, grace and conviction that your marriage is worth having tender sexual connection.  Adjust often and build upon what works.

Is there hope for a sex-starved marriage?  More often than not, there is.

Just as I discovered when I wrote that song, you as a couple can replace confusion and disbelief with something quite remarkable.

After reading this, do you believe there is hope for your sex-starved marriage?

Sep 12

6 Ways to Make Sure You Put Your Kids through College

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

6 Ways to Make Sure You Put Your Kids through CollegeCollege is an important steppingstone for your child that will help to prepare him or her for a successful and lucrative career.

As all parents are painfully aware, college isn’t cheap, and you can never save too soon or too aggressively for this part of life.

Use these tactics to make sure your kids have the money they need when it comes time to pursue higher education.

Begin the Savings as Early as Possible

This may seem like common sense, but if you catch on to this idea early enough, it could buy you a lot more time to save. You don’t need to have children to begin saving some money for the future education of your family.

If you plan to have children in the future, begin a special fund with your spouse as soon as you get married, or start a savings account on your own as you enter adulthood and consider it the future generation’s fund.

Learn to Let Your College Funds Evolve

In the early years, stocks are the best choice for your fledgling college fund. Invest heavily in these while your future college grad is still young. As they grow, gradually switch the fund to bonds and cash investments.

This creates a safer portfolio. At all stages, make sure your total portfolio is diverse. If all this sounds like a little too much work, opt for a mutual fund where you’ll have a professional in charge of the minutia.

The financial landscape is continually changing, so it’s important to stay up-to-date. Turn to quality sources like the books published by Fisher Investments Press or one of the various respected financial magazines for regular updates on the latest news. Educating yourself about the world of finance will help you make the best decisions possible about your investments.

Don’t Plan for Savings to Cover It

You don’t have to rely solely on savings for your child’s college. If you’re trying to fund your son or daughter’s college education with your savings account alone, you’ll feel like throwing in the towel and compromising for a second-choice college. A better way to fund your child’s schooling is to split the cost between several sources.

Plan to divide the cost between student loans, money from your salary, and your college savings fund. This is a more realistic plan that opens up more possibilities.

Get Your Child Involved in the Process

Encourage your child to help fund his own college savings. As soon as they start working, ask them to put part of their earnings into their college fund. If your child has their eye on a particularly expensive school, encourage them to put all of their earnings into the fund to help turn the dream into a reality.

You can also get your child involved by having them put aside money they receive from relatives for occasions like birthdays and holidays. Set up a savings account for them early so they can watch this fund grow.

You can also encourage contributions to the college fund by offering to match them yourself. If your child earns money from chores like mowing the lawn, give them the choice of making $10 cash or having $20 added to the college fund. If the kids set up a lemonade stand, encourage them to let their buyers know the money is going to a college fund. Then match what they earned yourself for a nice satisfying sum.

Find Creative Ways to Fund College Savings

While most people focus on stocks, bonds, and 529s when they’re talking about funding college, you also have to think about where you’ll get the money for these.

Get creative. Have Dad empty all of his silver change into a special jar at the end of the day and add the change to your college savings account once a year. Whenever you eat out or splurge on a gourmet morning coffee, match the amount that you spent with a contribution to the college fund.

Spend to Save with the Right Credit Cards

Some credit cards offer college-centered rewards programs. The Fidelity 529 College Rewards American Express card will give 2 percent back on your purchases to your Fidelity 529 account.

Programs like this allow you to make money in truly unexpected ways. You’ll accumulate a significant amount of savings simply by spending as you usually do. Make your everyday habits work for you with this kind of savings tactic.

With these smart strategies, your child can graduate high school with lots of options for their future education and career path.

This post was contributed by guest author Amanda Brown.

Image via Flickr by Andrea Travillian

Sep 11

Fall Tree Craft

By Amy Latta | Children , General

fall tree craft

Fall is in the air, and that means it’s a fun time to do some seasonal craft activities as a family!

Today, I’m excited to share with you a cute autumn craft that’s simple enough to do with even younger kiddos and won’t break the budget.  Take a look:


– styrofoam ball {1 per tree}
– assorted pom poms in fall colors
– stick from a real tree
– glue
– air dry clay

Step 1:  Glue your stick to the styrofoam ball.  Push it in and twist a bit so that the stick is firmly inserted, then add some glue to hold it in place.  We used low-temp hot glue so that it dried quickly but wasn’t hot enough to burn little fingers.

Fall Tree Craft

Step 2: Glue pom poms around the entire ball so that it’s totally covered.  Again, we used low-temp hot glue because otherwise this process would take forever.  The adults put a tiny bit of hot glue on the ball, and the kids pressed a pom pom in place, then we repeated that as we worked our way around.

fall tree craft

Fall Tree Craft

Step 3: Create a base for your tree using air-dry clay.

Pom Pom Tree Craft

Step 4: Enjoy!  Use your creations as decorations to bring a little fall color inside your home!

tree craft

Amy Latta is the author of One Artsy Mama, where she shares a variety of project types including home decor, kids’ crafts, sewing, jewelry, and more.  Recently, she published her first e-book, Crochet 101, to help beginners learn basic crochet stitches and techniques.  She is happiest when creating something and enjoys making all kinds of projects with her 5 year old “Little Crafter.” In her spare time, Amy is a professional ballroom, latin, and swing dancer.  When not on the dance floor or crafting, you can probably find her at Starbucks.

Sep 09

As Parents, You Must Be Unified

By Patrick Kansa | Children , Communication

holding-handsBefore my wife and I became parents, we went through a series of parenting sessions (with other couples and parents) that our church congregation offered. One of the recommendations that came from those classes is the subject for my article today – unity at the top.

At a very high level, both parents being unified is a simple concept to grasp, and one that makes a lot of sense. If both parents are on the same page (of the same book, mind you!) then your child knows exactly what to expect when it comes to things like privileges, boundaries, and the like. In practice, however, this can be more involved than you might think.

Talk To Each Other!

First off, you and your spouse must communicate with each other for what you think the rules should be. Sometimes, this might be something you discuss in advance (say, what time bedtime is), or things that you’re kind of talking through as the question or situation comes up (Hmm, can you have another snack today?). Whatever it is, no matter how mundane, you and your spouse need to come to an agreement.

mom-dad-sonThe trickier times crop up when there is a snap call that needs to be made, and your spouse isn’t immediately available for a quick level set. In our house, I generally take more of stricter position it seems, and I’ll be quick to deny something, or tell our older daughter that she needs to stop doing something. While that isn’t intrinsically a bad thing, it can set a dangerous precedent.

Say, for example, I told my daughter that she wasn’t allowed to do some certain thing with her art supplies (maybe cutting and gluing), for whatever reason. However, earlier in the day, my wife may have gone through with her how they were supposed to be used, and she (my daughter) used them responsibly. If I’m changing the rules now, that’s going to cause confusion.

This is especially critical if you’re dealing with young children, as we have. Their first instinct won’t be to tell you about the earlier permission that was granted – they’ll react in disappointment and frustration. And I can say from experience that that particular path is not a fun one to travel – for either parent or child.

Is There A Better Way?

There is a much different way this can go – and it’s the way I try to direct myself. Let’s go back to that earlier crafting example. I could, instead of shutting it down, ask her to wait while I went to check with my wife, and see if there was something that occurred earlier that would allow my daughter to be doing what she was doing.

parents-talking-on-couchThis nets us two very positive things. First, our daughter sees that we’re talking (and talking about her!), so she can know that her parents are on the same page about things. Next, it helps the both of us parents to make sure that we have the same baseline for permissiveness. This then leads (I hope) to our daughter knowing that she can’t try to get away with something.

How would that happen? Well, think back to your own childhood. Say, you wanted a cookie. Now, when I was growing up, I knew I had a much better chance if I asked my dad of actually getting that cookie. Even if it was a situation where I was told to go ask the other parent, I knew where my chances lie.

This is situational, of course – there are some things that parents are more inclined to do (or not do) based on interests, level of busyness, and the like. For example, I’m not about to be ready to teach my daughter to sew, but if she wants to practice using a hammer, I can probably find a project for her. At a low level, we just don’t want things to get to the point where a child knows that they can try to play parents off of each other, or even just play games to try and get what they want.

There Are Wonderful Benefits

This will all come to fruition if your child sees that you and your spouse are unified. This can happen in many ways throughout a day or evening. It could be at the dinner table, where we’re teaching our daughter to say “Excuse me” and then wait to be acknowledged when my wife and I are talking to each other. It could be your child seeing you and your mate holding hands as you walk down the sidewalk, or embracing each other when you get home from work.

parents-kissingFrom what I recall (on this topic) from the class, this not only avoids scenarios where the child tries to play parents against each other, it also allows the child to have a feeling of safety, of being loved. They see the discussions, the hugs and kisses, and they not only know, but they feel that things are good with Mom and Dad. This keeps them free to be children who are learning and growing, secure in the fact that they are part of a cohesive, loving family.

Easier Said Then Done

As I mentioned at the start, this is one of those concepts that is very simple on paper, and it’s easy to see the benefits. Of course, parenting is never as clean cut as the plans we might lay out for ourselves, and seeking and maintaining unity is something the both of you will have to work through to find the right level of give and take, in order to provide that loving environment for your children. There’s no guarantee that it’ll be easy, and if you’re like me, you’re liable to slip up now and again. We can keep at it, though, and the rewards that you AND your children will gain are immeasurable.

On this topic, I’m curious – what do you and your spouse do to make sure that you’re unified when it comes to raising your children? Sound off in the comments and let us know – I’m sure there’s good tips out there from our readers that would be beneficial to everyone.


Sep 06

7 Ways to Motivate Your Husband

By Dustin | Communication

Motivating Your Spouse

Your husband used to be a go-getter, always on top of things. Now, he barely wants to get out of bed. You can’t get him out of the house, in front of a sink of dirty dishes, or even in clean clothes. He has a problem; unfortunately, it quickly becomes your problem as well.

There might be a reason why your husband lost his spark, like losing his job or getting bad health news. It could also be something you don’t know about, or maybe it’s nothing at all. No one should live in a constant state of inertia, though, so help your husband get out of his funk with these seven ideas.

Determine the Cause

If your husband was recently laid off or suffered a setback, you can understand why he’s feeling listless. But sometimes, the reason isn’t so clear. Why doesn’t he want to play football with his buddies or go out on date night? Talk to him to find out if anything has changed. If that doesn’t help, take him to the doctor – you’d be amazed how even a slight infection can sap motivation.

Talk It Out

People sometimes shut down when they feel like they’re facing a struggle all alone. Talking things out can remove this feeling of isolation, and may lead to renewed motivation. Whether you initiate the conversation or your husband does, talk about what’s going on. He may just need to get things off his chest, or maybe he needs advice on how to get back on track.

Many times a negative outlook on life becomes a habit that is hard to shake. Fifty percent of what we do every day is habitual and that can include our attitude. Getting your husband to reason out why he is down and out will help him get his motivation back. Use the bait and switch method; replace his complacency and negative attitude with optimism and a motivation to live well.

Take Some of the Load Off

Your husband might know he needs to take action but not know where to start. Make it easier by taking the first step. If he needs to find a job, send him promising leads. If he needs to lose weight, start cooking healthy meals. If he’s stopped hanging out with friends, invite them over for dinner and drinks. These little pushes might prompt him to become more proactive.

Offer Incentives for Positive Steps

Sometimes your husband needs extra incentives to resume activities he used to enjoy. Maybe you want to go shopping but your hubby doesn’t feel like going out. Offer to take him to his favorite restaurant for lunch. You don’t always have to make it so obvious; if you suggest watching a shoot-‘em-up every time he cleans the yard, he’ll get the message.

Leverage His Competitive Streak

For some men, the only thing worse than having to do something is having someone else doing it. Even the idea can make them spring into action. Need the sink fixed? Let him know you called a plumber; he’ll get the toolbox before you finish your sentence. Raise the stakes by making it a contest; if he wants to quit smoking, pit him against another smoker and see who wins.

Accentuate the Positive

Positive thinking gets people off their butts, so remind your husband that his actions will lead to something good. He’ll do more yard work if he remembers how jealous the neighbors used to be of your spotless lawn. He’ll spend more time with the kids if he knows they’ll make him their hero. And he’ll definitely eat right and exercise when you remind him how sexy healthy men are.

Sing His Praises

While your husband appreciates your kind words and gestures when you’re alone, you’ll boost his ego when you do it in front of others. A compliment and a squeeze of the hand at a party make him feel good and look good to other guests. Praise him, but don’t flatter him; sweet talk that sounds insincere could backfire and make him feel worse.

Whether you want your husband to get back on his feet or just get off the couch, he may need encouragement from you. Follow these tips and he’ll be back to his old self in no time.


Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for a tech company and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her articles have been published by Her Fitness Hut,, and Ask Miss A.

Sep 03

Marry the whole person. Sleep with the sex machine.

By Dawn Van Ness | Sex & Family Planning


Love goggles.  Rose tinted glasses.  Seeing the bright side.

We are all aware of the cliches and metaphors.

Chemistry. Chemicals of love.  Addicted to love.

And we are all aware of the science behind love and sexual attraction.

People all have their philosophies and beliefs about love and sexual attractions, based
on nothing more than their own wishes or on the latest front page article of a major magazine.  I haven’t been a believer, unless my experiences and observations were to lead me to believe that love and sexual attraction, due to brain chemistry, are highly combustible, leaving human wreckage behind.

BAM!  HINDENBURG!  TITANIC!  LOVE CANAL!  Sound the sirens!  It’s going down!

Thinking too little.  Thinking too much.

A friend of mine, who I’ll refer to as Poughkeepsie, HEATEDLY disagreed with me, so much so that when I broke off a relationship with a man, she was disappointed in me because I didn’t let “love lead the way.”  Then when she started a relationship with a questionable person, she shut me out, because I saw “chains of love.”

Poughkeepsie was disgusted by the idea that love was chemical, and in no way did she want to believe that love driven by chemicals was ultimately bad for a person.

But for me, the love drug, love potion number 5, the mojo, was purely nature’s deceptive way to get people reproducing.

And Poughkeepsie loved the drug and all its promises of men on white horses and castles and children.

(roark… excuse me)

She believed that the love drug could remake people.  Love potion number 5 could get people to see their partners’ real selves.  The mojo took away inhibitions and freed the inner self.

Woo hoo… saddle up!

I on the other hand saw it differently.

The love drug could remake people’s images.  Love potion number 5 could get people to see what they wanted their partners to be.  The mojo blinds reason, binding and gagging a significant part of the inner self.

…great…bind me, blind me, whip me, punish me, disappoint me…no thank you.


So, so, so…. who is right?!

These days, I would say neither of us.

While I was ready to throw away the baby with the bathwater, she was ready to embrace a million babies like old mother Hubbard.

Neither of us could deal with the reality of love and intimacy.

Yay for being in your 20s…

But love surely has chemical components, and those chemicals help loosen us up for intimacy and sex, and what a wonderful thing that is!

And if you try love and sex without the chemicals, you get makeshift mannequins married with children, and how sad is that!?

Put A in slot B.  Place C on L1 and L2.  Gyrate in ¾ turns.

So what is a homo sapien to do?  This thinking upright human?

Master the chemicals.

Have you ever driven by a restaurant and smelled the grilling meat? Or past a produce stand seeing the bright, shiny tomatoes and watermelons?  And then your mouth watered and stomach growled?

Your body screams, “Pull over!  Pull over!  Yes! Yes! YES!”

If you DO NOT indulge these urges even a little, say, you are  broke and can’t, eventually your body quiets down.

You body whispers, under its nature, “What does it matter… can’t have any anyway.”

But if you let yourself see,


                                         imagine the the first bites…

Isn’t the anticipation wonderful!  And then the actual first bites practically explode in your mouth!

“Oh, yeah baby!  Yes!”

BUT if you are ethical, before you start anticipating, you’ll slow down and think:  Is this something I want to support?

A road stand can be a farmer.  It can be a family  It can be non-GMO.  It can be organic.

Or maybe not.

A restaurant can be fair/equal employer.  It can be organic.  It can be free-range and grass fed.

Or maybe not.

Wouldn’t it be perfect if all worked out perfectly… without having to think?  Like the white horses and castles?

But not thinking will get you food poisoning at worst. Or perpetuate unethical business practices.

Thinking too much now?  About everything?

The problem with being a thinking thinking upright human about love, sex, and intimacy can be restarting the primitive sex and intimacy.

Too much thinking before before in delicto is bad, bad.

So where thinking and reason got you a great marriage relationship, too much thinking can crack your rose tinted glasses and bust your love goggles!

A serious relationship is indicative of thinking too much.  I’m not going to list the concerns.  OK, I lied.

Laundry List

AND THIS IS JUST HOME!!!!!!!!  Maybe even just one person.

And if you don’t consider thinking, you can be sure you’ll have cavities or gingivitis, a cracked foundation from water damage, a car with a damaged engine, a rabid pet, overgrown yard, clogged arteries, high blood pressure, and a stinky utility room.  And I didn’t even touch paying bills, renegotiating financing, reassessments, college savings, and investment portfolios.

Putting on the Rose

Learning to reduce the thinking stress to find the on switch is important.  So find out how to put on the rose.

It may be a glass of rose and a pretty piece of lingerie.

It may be a glass of mint julep and a slow dance to “Isn’t it Romantic?”

It may be a set of push-ups and some flexing in the mirror.

It may be an alter ego… and pictures.

What brings your sexy back?

Music is awesome.  A good drink is relaxing.  Some stretching and posing in a mirror works.  Some self sex talk.  Now bring in your partner.  Whisper sex promises or make them make promises.

Imagine your favorite sex scene.  Allow them to imagine theirs.

Open your senses.

Feel your body.  As sexy as putting your hands on your partner may be, how does it make you feel?  Tell them.

The next day, share how pleasured you were.  Not “pleased” – there is a tactile and graphic difference.

Don’t just call to say, “Hey, can you pick up the kids?”  Call and say, “I need you, and I’ll keep it warm for you no matter how late it gets.”

And reflect on it all.   In traffic, with the radio on, a good song, take yourself back to you and your partner, and remember highlights.

And let yourself feel.  Embellish.  Get a little flushed.

Your imagination is your produce stand, and those ripe tomatoes are yours, homegrown.  That steak you enjoy at home is all natural.

You marry the whole person.  Responsible.  Invested.

You make love to the sex machine.  Uninhibited and oh so juicy.

And best of all, in a marriage, you two are only sharing it with the person who means the world to you.  This is the diamond you made together, your intimate relationship.

And diamonds are meant to be admired, just like roses, just like lovers.