Monthly Archives: November 2013

Nov 27

Coffee Table Makeover

By Mary Beth Foster | Household Management

coffee table makeover

If your furniture is putting you to sleep, here’s a quick, easy and inexpensive way to give it a facelift with paint chips.

I started with a piece I already had, a Boksel Sofa Table from Ikea, but this project would work with any table or dresser with a glass or plexiglass top.  All you’ll need is a variety of paint chips and something to cut with.

coffee table makeover

Start by cutting your paint chips.  I used an x-acto knife and a ruler to cut my paint chips on a rotary mat, but don’t worry if you don’t have these tools.  I find that an x-acto knife makes for straighter, more precise cuts than scissors, but if you don’t have one, scissors would work just fine.  Also, if you don’t have a rotary mat, a thick piece of cardboard works well as a cutting surface. I chose to cut my paint chips into squares and rectangles of varying sizes.

After you’ve got a big pile of paint chips (trust me, you’ll need way more than you think you will!), remove the glass top from your table and begin positioning your paint chips directly on the tabletop.  I didn’t have a plan for their placement; I just tried to vary the size and color of the paint chips and let the design evolve as I went.

coffee table makeover

After you have a design you like, have your spouse help you to very carefully replace the glass top.  That’s right: I didn’t even glue them down.  When I started this project, I thought I’d have to figure out a way to make the paint chips adhere to the tabletop, but the glass top sat snugly enough against the tabletop to hold them in place.  Here’s the finished project.

coffee table makeover

This project took less than an hour and was completely free.  Here’s some advice I’d offer if you’re thinking of trying something like it.

  • The final effect of this project is definitely bold and busy – “whimsical,” as my husband called it.  I can see it looking great in a kid’s room or a play room.

  • Too busy for you?  If you like the idea of this project but find the final effect to be a little too bold, consider limiting yourself to a single shade of paint chips or cutting your paint chips into a single, uniform size.  Bigger paint chip pieces will also help.

  • Unless your table is very small, I would suggest cutting your paint chips into mainly large pieces.  Most of the small squares I cut went in the trash because it just took too many to cover a relatively small section of the table, and I had trouble keeping them in place without adhesive.

  • If you’re able to get by without gluing your paint chips in place like I did, this project is quick enough that you could change out your paint chips for different seasons.

  • Don’t have a glass top table?  I’ve seen variations of this project on Pinterest that involve using a craft paste like mod podge to glue paint chips to a basic coffee or side table.  I haven’t tried this myself, so do your research if you decide to go this route.

What tips do you have for giving old or boring furniture a facelift?

Nov 25

Do NOT Ask This Question in Your Marriage…

By E.J. Smith | Communication , General , Help


If there’s a gene for being blunt, I promise you that my Jersey Italian family got it two-fold.

We’re not crass or mean-spirited per se, but as my mother would put it, we’re “efficient in our honesty.” (Well, that’s one way to put it!)  Anyway, growing up in this family—this loving, open, boisterous and brutally honest family– gasps of horror at the honest answers to questions like, “Does this dress make me look fat?” or “What do you think of my new hair cut?” often resulted in the aforementioned statement:  Don’t ask the question if you’re not ready to hear the answer.

So you’re probably wondering how this piece of familial “wisdom” relates to fixing troubled relationships.

Allow me to explain:  When one partner in a marriage expresses that a need of his or hers feels unmet, such as, “I don’t feel respected at home,” a question we hope the other partner will ask is:

“What can I do to help you feel respected?”

Why is this question so critical?

This question is critical for two reasons:

#1) Notice that the question makes an offer of assistance—not ownership. 

The partner does not respond by asking what he or she can do to make the other person feel respected.  Assuming you have the power to force a change on someone’s psyche is not only the exact opposite of respect, but also robs the individual of ownership of his or her emotional experiences.


Are you with me so far?


#2) Asking for guidance as to how one may assist is — in itself–  an act that conveys respect.  You show respect when you assume your spouse is the expert on his or her needs.

So there you go– easy enough, right?  WRONG!

You must NEVER ever ask your spouse, “What can I do to help you feel respected?”  (or something similar) unless you have already considered this:

How willing are you to give your partner what he or she requests? 

How much do you trust that your spouse’s request will be reasonable?


Trust and believe,  these are questions worth asking yourself.  If my own past experience and the many couples I’ve met over the years are any indicator, I’m guessing there are probably some needs or compromises to which you’re more willing to acquiesce than others.

And hey,  that’s okay.  You’re allowed to have boundaries too!

The point is to know what those boundaries are, and go into that conversation with honesty.

One of the worst things you could do in this situation is promise to do something and then not do it.

Let me say that again:  One of the worst things you can do in this situation is promise to do something, and then not do it.

Do you hear me?  Worst!


But E.J., what if my spouse requests something of me that I truly am unwilling to give?

Well that’s certainly possible.  Assuming your spouse hasn’t asked you to be an accomplice in some illegal activity, or put your family in physical, mental, emotional or spiritual danger (because I’m assuming you married a reasonable, generally decent person):  Ask yourself what about the request feels unreasonable to you.


This inner exploration is wise for two reasons:

1)    You’re much more likely to have a rational, respectful discussion (as opposed to an emotion-filled rant) if you’ve done your inner homework around the request.

2)    Since compromise is an important component of any marriage or relationship, understanding your stance on the issue will also help you reach a compromise that leaves both parties feeling heard and satisfied.

If all else fails, seek mediation from a neutral, safe, and mutually agreed upon third party together.  This might be a chaplain, pastor, or even a counselor.  In this scenario, the ideal would be for you to both be present.  However, if your partner is unavailable or unwilling to meet, I think its at least important that you go.  Get that perspective.  Feel heard and be willing to listen.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and questions.  Can you relate?

Image source:; photographer: stockimages


Nov 22

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Time Together?

By Dustin | Romance

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Time Together?Every year, when the summer turns to fall, people start to find indoor activities to fill their time.

This is true even if you live in a mild climate, like the Pacific Northwest where winter is more wet than it is cold (at least comparatively).

If you live in a part of the country that is hit harder by inclement weather, like the Northeast or Midwest, it’s possible to go an entire winter season and only leave your home for work and food seeking purposes.

In Boston (we’ve heard it mentioned in other places too), there is this old wives tale that says more Bostonian relationships break up in the spring time because the couple is finally able to get out of the house and away from each other.

It might sound extreme and far-fetched, but think about it for a second: why would any adult of sound frame of mind choose to go out into the crazy weather we get here during the fall and winter if they didn’t absolutely have to? Not only is it bone chillingly cold and wet but our traffic goes from being simply frustrating and time consuming to abysmal, erratic, infuriating and terrifying.

It’s best to just stay home unless you have no choice otherwise and it seems pretty clear that this is less than great for the health of most relationships.

Experts agree that to maintain a healthy relationship, each partner needs to have quality time to themselves as well as quality time spent together. That time apart helps make the time spent together feel more special and allows the individual to maintain a degree of independence.

It’s easy to do this during the summer, when getting out of the house is fairly easy and every neighborhood in Boston has street and craft fairs, but what about those long winter afternoons and nights when the idea of going out and fighting the heavy and erratic traffic is just too much? The key, it seems, is learning to do something that Dr. Debbie Herbernick, in this article for Psychology Today, calls “coputtering.”

Coputtering is basically being able to be separate even while being together. For instance, spending time in different rooms for parts of the day or evening. Or, if space is limited—finding ways to allow each other to entertain themselves independently even while in the same room. The example Dr. Herbernick gives is one partner reading while another watches television or plays a video game.

Another danger seems to be finding ways to keep the romance alive when all you want to do is get away from each other for an hour.

Here are some of the ways that you can do that:

1. Surprise each other. Just as surprise is good in life, it’s good in a relationship or marriage. When something unexpectedly amazing happens, it creates a sense of spontaneous joy. Suddenly place plane tickets to Hawaii in your partner’s hand. Dress up in a suit and hold up a new dress for a night out on the town. A simpler gesture may be to order a bouquet of flowers while sitting next to your partner without him or her having any idea that’s what you’re doing.

2. Set up a fancy date night at home. Order something in. It doesn’t have to be pizza! There are delivery services like Grub Hub, through which you can order from a variety of restaurants and have the food brought directly to your door (make sure to tip your driver handsomely since his being out and about is allowing you to stay at home). Put out the good china, dress up, and turn down the lights–the whole deal.

3. Use any of the small tips from this great list! These are all ways to show someone you care about them, even when you’re making time to be independent together.

And remember: winter is only temporary! The weather will warm up soon!

This post was contributed by guest writer Christine Michaels.

Nov 20

Table For Two Date Ideas

By Debi Walter | Romance


We think nothing of saying this when a restaurant host asks us how many in our party, “table for two, please.”

It’s expected.

But what if we were to plan a romantic date with our spouse setting up our own table for two, please!

Tom and I love to do this in unexpected places:

  • Dinner in our bedroom – set up a table for two, use lots of candles and soft music.
  • Dinner in our backyard – set up a dining tent with market lights and a fire-pit nearby, or just use lots of candles and dine under the stars.
  • Dinner in the parking lot at work – Tom met me at work one day for lunch and set up a table in the parking lot, played music from the car and it was wonderful! We turned a lot of heads that day, but they knew I was being romanced well! 🙂
  • Dinner on the beach, lakefront or river.
  • Dinner in a city park – set up a table complete with center piece and nice dishes.

We’ve discovered we love having dinner together in all kinds of out-of-the-ordinary places. Sure we still go out to dinner, but those dates are easily forgotten. I’ll never forget the times we’ve taken a little more effort to create a table for two that’s romantic and best of all–memorable! For more ideas, check out our Romantic Dining board on Pinterest.

How about you? Have you ever set up a table for two in an unusual place?


Nov 18

3 Sex Lies (Some) Christian Wives Believe

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

3 Sex Lies (Some) Christian Wives BelieveHave you been lied to about sex?

Worse, have other Christians been behind those lies?

Maybe! The good news, though, is that once you recognize these lies, you can set the record straight in your marriage and make sex a sacred, nurtured and mutually-valued aspect of your relationship.

Here are 3 sex lies (some) Christian wives believe:

Lie #1:  Sex is just for him.

This is a sneaky little lie that usually shows up subtly, much to the detriment of your sexual pleasure as a wife and the profound effect sex could be having on your marriage.

Nowhere — I mean, nowhere — in the Bible do we see that sex is just for the husband.  God wants a husband and wife to mutually honor and nurture sexual intimacy in marriage.

I think some Christian wives start to believe sex is just for a husband because his drive may be higher or because it is easier for him to reach orgasm.  If that describes your situation — if you drifted into believing sex is just for him — I’m here to say that your sexual pleasure matters.

If you struggle with not enjoying sex, try to figure out why.  Talk openly with your spouse and commit together to making intimacy enriching for both of you.

Sex isn’t just good for your marriage, it is good for you personally.  And if your husband is like most husbands, he wants you to enjoy sex.  He wants you to want it.

Lie #2:  Sex is just for making babies.

A good friend of mine was talking with her early-teen daughter about intimacy, and the daughter said, “Well, I only want two kids, so I think I’ll just have sex twice when I’m married.”

My friend laughed and said, “Well, I don’t think your husband is going to be too happy about that!”

My friend could have easily gone on to say to her daughter, “You as a wife aren’t going to be too happy about it either! If you really grasp how God designed sexual pleasure and bonding, you’ll discover how much you like it too!”

She didn’t say that, of course, but I imagine she will someday.  But right now her daughter is like most girls and young women who intricately associate marriage with having babies.  We don’t grow up associating marriage with tender soul-drenching sexual pleasure and bonding.

It’s not that it’s bad that sex is how we get babies, because God did indeed say go ye forth and multiply (and sex was the means He designed to get there).

BUT, we spend a lot of time in marriage having sex that does not lead to babies.   Even a couple who marries in their early 20s likely will spend less than the first third of their marriage in childbearing years (assuming they are married for upward of 60 years).

And let’s not forget about married couples who face the heart-wrenching struggle of infertility, sometimes without ever getting pregnant.  What about couples who marry later in life, beyond their childbearing years?

Or couples who simply cannot get pregnant because of injury or illness?

Or couples who are already pregnant but still could be having sex during the pregnancy?

Suffice it to say, sex is not just for procreation.  And God’s Word backs this up.  In Proverbs and in Song of Songs, for example, God reminds us about the delight of marital sexual pleasure.  And in 1 Corinthians, He reminds us that having sex regularly protects a marriage against temptation.

Stop believing and living the lie that sex is just for making babies. It really is for so much more.

Lie #3:  Sex is about being inhibited.

It’s hard to grasp that Christian modesty could ever be a bad thing, but I do think it inadvertently has taken quite a toll on some marriages.

Don’t get me wrong.  I get that we as Christian women want to maintain a high standard of discretion in the way we dress and carry ourselves in public settings.  Sadly, though, this approach has seeped into marriage beds everywhere.

Inhibition and modesty have sabotaged what could be profound sexual connection and fun in the exclusive sexual encounters between a husband and a wife.

While I cannot define what being uninhibited means for each married couple, I do wholeheartedly believe that there is freedom to enjoy different sexual positions, techniques and so forth.

As long as there are NO third parties (real, imagined or pornographic) participating in your intimacy AND as long as neither spouse is getting hurt (emotionally, physically or spiritually), then I think a married couple has tremendous freedom.

Discuss as a couple what would make sex more bonding, intimate and enjoyable for you. You can stretch outside your comfort zone without compromising your Christian values.

When you look over the above 3 lies, do you see any that you have believed?

Now is the time to stop believing the lies… and start engaging with your spouse sexually in a way that reflects all God designed sex to be.

Nov 13

Expand Your Financial Resources for 2014: Build a CD Ladder

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

How to Build a CD LadderMarriage is all about expanding your resources.

Doing more with two than you ever could have with one. Combining energies, passions, skills, and enthusiasms into a happy home, a new family, and a productive life.

Money, on the other hand, often threatens happy marriages because it is viewed as something that diminishes resources.

Even couples with two good salaries report feeling the financial pinch every month. It can be hard sometimes to look at your bank balances and your retirement accounts and think “aren’t we supposed to have more?”

Well, this is where you have to get really savvy with your money. There are ways to expand your financial resources as a couple, but you have to be ready to plan and allocate your money in a way that will get you the maximum net return.

Today, we’re going to look at one way to expand your financial resources in 2014: building a CD ladder. If you take the time to construct a good CD ladder with high interest rates, you can spend much of next year letting your money expand for you.

What is a CD ladder?

A CD ladder is a way to invest your money for a guaranteed return. CD ladders are often better investments than stock market investments for two reasons:

1. When you invest in CDs, you know exactly what your return will be.

2. With a CD ladder, you always have liquid cash available when you need it.

If you and your spouse have been avoiding investments after seeing people’s nest eggs get decimated during the economic crash of the last decade, or if you simply don’t want your emergency fund and savings tied up where you can’t get them when you need them, a CD ladder solves both of these problems while allowing your money to work for you and grow.

How does a CD ladder work?

First, you and your spouse need to look at available CD rates and term lengths. These are the guaranteed rates of return that your money will receive if it is placed in a CD — or certificate of deposit — for a specific amount of time. 6-month CDs earn more money than 3-month CDs, and 12-month CDs earn more money than 6-month CDs.

On the page describing CD rates from Discover Bank, there’s a huge note for would-be CD investors: “It’s important to consider what you’re saving for and when you will need the funds when selecting the best CD rate and term for you.” Finding the highest CD rates is important, but it’s also important to plan when you think you’ll need your money. If you put your entire emergency fund in a 12-month CD, but need a new car transmission in month 6, you haven’t made a good financial decision.

A good rule of thumb for first-time CD ladderers is to space your CDs by three months. Buy a 3-month CD, a 6-month CD, a 9-month CD and a 12-month CD. That way, you have a large chunk of your savings coming back to you every quarter with, of course, the guaranteed CD return added on.

But here’s the magic of CD ladders. Let’s say you get that 3-month CD back and you don’t need the funds for an emergency. Now you get to take that money and invest it in a 12-month CD with the high guaranteed return. Same with that 6-month CD; in fact, every CD you don’t spend gets reinvested into a 12-month CD. After a year, all of your CDs are now returning the highest rate, and you still have liquid cash available every three months.

Safety and security

Are CDs safe? Absolutely. But you need to read the fine print. Here’s what the FDIC has to say: “Before establishing a CD account, make sure that the issuing bank has clearly identified the account as a “deposit” which is subject to FDIC deposit insurance.” You also need to understand exactly when you will be paid your interest, which parts of your interest are subject to tax, and whether there are penalties for early withdrawal of your funds.

If you have questions about CD laddering, talk to a representative at your bank, or to your financial adviser. They’ll be able to help guide you to the best CD ladder for your current financial situation.

2014 is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about your financial plans for the next year. Talk to your spouse about your available financial resources, and whether a CD ladder might be a good way to expand them. Remember that if you are able to keep the ladder going for a number of years, your resources will continue to expand and your finances will continue to grow.

This post was written by guest columnist Christine Michaels.

Nov 13

Advent Activities for the Whole Family!

By Amy Latta | Children

Hi there, friends!  The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about fun ways your family can prepare and celebrate Advent together.

If you’re scratching your head and wondering, “What in the world is Advent?” it’s the four week period leading up to Christmas.  Some churches and denominations put a heavy emphasis on it, while others don’t mention it at all.  The idea, though, is taking four weeks to prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate Jesus’ birth.  It’s a time to get excited, to count down, and to spend time doing the things that matter most.  There are lots of different and fun ways you can incorporate Advent into your home; here are some of the things we like to do in the Artsy Family!

Create and Light an Advent Wreath/Box

Advent Wreath

Advent wreaths can be pretty much any shape or size you want; the important part is to have four candles, one for each of the four weeks preceding Christmas, and a center candle for Christmas Eve or day.  Each week, you light a new candle, in addition to the ones you’ve already lit as a way of counting down.  Sometimes the outer candles are colored {usually three purple and one pink} and in different traditions, they represent things like peace, love, joy, hope, etc.


Sometimes they can be huge, like this one our church used last year…how cool is that?!  But it’s also fun to have one in your home that you can light with your family on a weekly or even nightly basis to help get everyone excited about and focused on the season.


We’ve had several different types of Advent wreaths in the Artsy House over the years.  For several years, we used this simple one where I wrapped berries around a gold candle wreath.  But last year, we attended an event where we made the super cool stenciled wooden box with mason jars and fresh greens pictured above.  For more information on that one and a full tutorial, check out my Advent Box post.  {That one also uses battery operated tea lights…yay for fire safety with kiddos around!}

Make a Countdown Chain


This tradition is really special to me because it’s something I grew up doing every year with my parents!  We make a simple paper chain to help us count down to Christmas.  Each day, we tear off a link of the chain after dinner and it tells us how many days are left!  You can also write activities on the links, or anything else you want!

Make/Use an Advent Calendar

I think my favorite of all the holiday traditions we do is our Advent calendar.  It starts December 1 and what we like to do is come up with a fun family centered activity for each day.  Sometimes it’s as simple as “kiss under the mistletoe” or to read a particular Christmas book.  Other times, it might be making a gingerbread house or gumdrop wreath, baking cookies, doing some holiday shopping, decorating our tree, or driving around to look at Christmas lights.  Each day, we all look forward to finding out what we’re going to do together.  For the past several years, we’ve used a storebought calendar that looks like a bunch of little presents stacked on top of each other.  You open up the doors to find the activities written on slips of paper inside.

But this year, I decided I wanted to make our calendar instead!  Silhouette is my jam, so when I saw this limited edition Silhouette Advent Calendar Kit, I begged for it.

It contains:
– a solid wood frame, painted white
– a 20-shape download card
– 35 hanging clips

I was really looking forward to showing you all how I made it and how crazy-cute it is, but sadly, it still hasn’t come yet!  I stalk the mailman every day to no avail.  But, at least I can show you some photos of what other people have done with it!  Take a look:

Silhouette Advent Calendar

Aaah!  Isn’t it fabulous?!  See why I wanted it!   While I’m waiting for mine to arrive, over at Silhouette, you can get this kit for yourself at 40% off!   To claim your special deal, be sure to use the code ARTSY at checkout!  Of course, there are lots of other options for making or buying your advent calendar; the key is to make it something the whole family will enjoy!  Some people put candies in each day as well as the fun activities…there’s a win-win for you!  What are your favorite traditions leading up to Christmas?

I hope this gives you some fun ideas for ways to celebrate Advent at home with your family this holiday season!

Hugs & Glitter,


Nov 11

Giving Kids Choices

By Patrick Kansa | Children

Giving-Kids-Choices-SignToday, I’d like to cover a topic that one that can be rewarding for the child – and sometimes frustrating for the parent.  That, of course, is giving your children choices.  When they start off in life, we’re obviously making all the decisions for them – what they’ll eat, what they’ll wear, etc.  As they grow and mature, though, we starting letting them make their own choices.

Starting Out

Certainly, at first, those choices are relatively inconsequential – do they want the blue bowl or the red bowl, or what do they want to dip their chicken tenders into – that sort of thing.  Depending on your child’s particular maturity level, you may expand these choices more quickly then other parents.  It’s just one of those things that you have to trust your judgement, as you know your child best.

In our house, that’s something we’ve learned by trial and error.  We started with those easier choices, the things that I gave as examples.  As our oldest has grown, she’s demonstrated in different ways that she’s hit a maturity that’s exceeded her age in many ways (of course, there are other times where we are quickly reminded she’s still rather young).  This led us to opening up her choices in different ways.

Giving-Kids-Choices (1)

Accepting the Choice

When it comes to things like clothes, many times we’ll let her pick out her own clothing – or even just tell her to go into her room and change out of her pajamas, and then we’ll see what she’s gone with.  On one hand, this teaches her some independence – but it’s also a lesson for us as parents.  In short, we’ve got to be willing to accept what we’re allowing her to choose.  Sure, the combination of colors and patterns may not be what we’d go with, but it’s what she chose – so we let it ride.

On the other hand, we will other times give specific guidelines (say, we’re going to be out in the cooler weather all day) – then she has to work within those guidelines.  Or, if it comes to picking out her clothes for church, we narrow down the focus.  We’ll pick out two or three things, and then she can choose from those.  That way, we know what’s selected is going to be appropriate, and she still gets to make some decisions.

The biggest lesson we’ve had to learn from this is that, if something is being presented as a choice, you have to be willing to stand by her choice.  If you give a few options out, and one of them isn’t something you really want (say, a particular book you don’t enjoy reading), they will invariably settle on that option – and you must stand by it.  Otherwise, you’re presenting your child with a confusing situation, and that won’t lead to happy times.

Decision-making is an exciting time for your child, as they start gaining some independence as they learn to think about things for themselves.  At the same time, you have to be careful to not open things up too quickly.  If you do, your child is likely to be overwhelmed because they’re decision processes aren’t built up yet.  As they strengthen those muscles, though, it can be very rewarding for both parent and child to open up those choices.

Giving-Kids-Choices (3)

Know Your Child!

We as parents have to know our children, and when it makes sense to allow our child to make decisions.  Sometimes, it may not be a critical situation, and we can allow them to choose from a wide array of options (for example, what pajamas to wear).  In other situations, we may want to constrain the choices, so that they still have some freedom, but the choice ultimately conforms with what we know to be best for them (for example, what mid-day snack to have).

As with just about everything parent-related, this is a topic where we can get as much advice as possible for a variety of sources, but we won’t really know the correct path to go down until we try it out with our own children.  While it can be frustrating at times, it’s ultimately for the good of our children, so it’s important to figure it out!

Nov 09

How to Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage (Talking Optional)

By Dustin | Communication

How to Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage!“We just don’t talk anymore.”

“He doesn’t listen to me.”  “She’s so defensive – I can put her in a bad mood without saying a word.”

“When we first got together, we could spend hours just hanging out and talking. How can we get that back?”

“I love her SO much, but I really struggle to make her feel it.”

“The kids require so much of my energy and attention, sometimes he gets what’s left over at the end of the day.  He deserves better.”

“On our wedding day, the advice we got over and over again was to make good communication a priority.  I never thought we’d actually need help, but I know things can get better than they are right now.”

Communication is the core of any good relationship.  And it’s especially vital to communicate well within your marriage.

Of course, effortlessly talking for hours on end like you did when you were dating is a great form of communication.  But as your relationship has matured, the need for healthy and effective communication in many forms has expanded (even if you or your spouse didn’t notice).

The way you interact in the morning, the way you argue, the decisions you make with your kids and the “feeling” you give off to the household when you get home from work are all important forms of communication.

Communicating well is not easy.  But the great news is that nothing can compare to the power of high-quality communication when it comes to serving your spouse and enjoying a fun, passionate and deeply connected marriage.

The line between great, good and bad communication can seem pretty fine sometimes, but that’s part of the fun and challenge of being married.  If you invest some effort in learning and practicing better communication, I promise you’ll enjoy a better marriage as a result.

I’m excited to share that help is on the way – real, practical help that I know is going to leave you excited and reengaged. We’re hosting a very special online event soon called “How to Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage (Talking Optional).

I’ll be joined by my go-to resource on this topic – Dr. Corey Allan – who will be our main presenter.  Corey has helped couples across the world interact better with practical, fun and powerful tools for more effective communication . Here’s a brief bio:

Dr. Corey AllanDr. Corey Allan is a husband, father, author, speaker, as well as a Marriage and Family Therapist with a Ph.D. in Family Therapy. Corey has been married for over 20 years, and he regularly counsels individuals and couples around the world on how to have better relationships. He is also the founder of Simple Marriage, a leading online resource for practical marriage advice.

Corey is a Christian who believes that love is not a feeling, it’s a process. And marriage is no different. Prepare yourself for a powerful workshop that will give you a fresh perspective and take the communication in your marriage to new levels!

Here’s a sneak peek of what we’ll be covering in this live workshop:

  • Hear what your spouse is saying without overreacting or jumping to conclusions (and be heard by them)
  • Be crystal clear in the messages you send (with or without talking)
  • Speak more from the Best in you – both to your spouse AND children
  • Live more authentically & better connected with others
  • Get empowered with a completely different way to view communication and use effective communication tools to stop constant fighting, avoid gridlock & break out of the routine in your relationship

We’ve decided to keep the cost of this workshop very reasonable, and in addition to some awesome “take action tonight” live training and lifetime access to the recordings of the event, you’ll also have the opportunity to ask any question you’d like of Dr. Allan and me. Plus, Corey is including copies of TWO of his popular e-books – “A Simple Marriage” and “Buck Naked Marriage” for everyone who joins in the fun.

The live event takes place on Thursday evening 11/21, but if you already have plans, no worries – everyone who registers gets a full recording (both video and audio versions) to enjoy at your convenience and you can submit questions in advance.

That said, we have to limit the number of “seats” to the event because our webinar service can only accommodate so many live attendees, and we want to be able to respond to every question that’s submitted personally and thoroughly. So grab your seat soon.

Dustin and Corey Workshop

Click here to reserve your seat to this special event

By the way, I’m all about delivering the goods and making sure you love your experience with this event. So, even though I’m sure you’ll love what Corey has to share, I’m covering all attendees with a 100% guarantee. If you’re not blown away by the workshop, I’ll refund your money – and you can keep both books to enjoy!

I’m so excited for this second Engaged Marriage “How-to” Workshop, and I hope you will join us for a marriage-enriching event!

Nov 06

Feeling Thankful? Or Do You Enjoy A Bad Sex Life?

By Dawn Van Ness | Sex & Family Planning

Being appreciative of your spouse, the intimacy you do share, and the sex you are currently having is obviously one of the best things you could do for yourself.  Being appreciative is so important, I’ll repeat myself:

Appreciating what you have is good for you.

Idealized Coupledom

Being appreciated for what you bring to your spouse, the intimacy you share, and the sex you have is also critical.  If appreciation and gratitude is unbalanced or just one sided, this is not good for you as an individual or as a couple; this is unhealthy.


So, with Thanksgiving weeks away, can you and your partner express thankfulness for each other, the intimacy, and the sex?

Can you express thankfulness and feel grateful without embarrassment or inward flinching?

Can you or your spouse understand if there is inward flinching?

Are you both aware of any unbalance or lack of fulfillment?

Is there acceptance and peace with the state of your sex lives?

Are you working on improving your sex lives or state of intimacy?

Or is the state of your sex lives and intimacy something that is just festering with resentment?

Not Feeling Thankful

If you are not feeling thankful, if your spouse is putting off feelings of thanks or is the source of frustration or hurt, it is ok to acknowledge and accept the negative state of things.

If sex is important to you, and you feel like you are going without unjustifiably, or if the intimacy is not there before, during, or after, your spouse may be denying you.

You may be denying them.

Be realistic about your assessment if you want things to get better.

Thankful Versus Grateful

Thoughtful Assessment 2Be thankful for your partnership, but not grateful in a way that subjugates you and not arrogant in a way that subjugates your partner.

If either person is made to feel less or unworthy or undesirable, by their own state of mind or by their partner, this is not good for emotional health and sabotages sex and intimacy – instead of getting to feel high and euphoric, a person will be left feeling high and dry.

You shouldn’t be so grateful “he even wants you” or that “she allows me.”  It is important to start leaning into these issues.  You are worth it.

Sharing With Others

Now when you do acknowledge your bad sex life or when someone you know shares details about theirs, it is important to understand something that we may not realize in this post- Plath, confessional, Tweet-throughout-the-day, celebrity-look-at-me talk show, and everybody-is-a-star reality show society.

Here it is:


Why is it inappropriate and suspicious to share your sex problems, even with brothers or sisters?  And why is it highly suspect to share with a member of the opposite sex? Even if they are your best bud in the whole wide world?

Because you are supposed to work this out with your partner, and exposing them to judgement or ridicule is irresponsible and mean:  it is unloving.

And it makes sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table WAY uncomfortable for your partner.

No matter how little or how much you are “getting,” what the quality is, or how it makes you feel, taking it outside of the relationship to share and vent is a deal breaker.

Because you can’t build intimacy on a foundation of betrayal.

And if you need to tell people all about it, people have a pretty good idea why you are doing it.  Here is just what I’ve observed.

Married Men Sharing Sexual Disappointment Outside a Relationship

Freebee I’ve heard enough from husbands and popular male comedians to realize that complaining openly to others is a red flag, especially if it disparages the woman who is a working mother, who may even make more money than her husband or whose career or social standing is increasing, surpassing and threatening her husband’s ego.

More often than not, the husband is not pulling his weight of responsibility, and this is a way of leveling accountability.

Another reason for claiming sexual dissatisfaction is you have an adult trying to extort through guilt something they can’t get, and most times shouldn’t get – emotional dominance and power over the relationship.   It is the grown up version of the parent child relationship that mothers know very well.

Sometimes married men are looking for sympathy to either 1) justify an affair to themselves or 2) preemptively justify an affair to their circle of friends or family.

So, in my experience, the reasons men often share bad sex lives:  dominance and control, insecurity and ego, affairs and absolution from guilt.

Married Women Sharing Sexual Disappointment Outside a Relationship

Attracting Bad AttentionWomen, I’ve noticed, use sex and the lack of their husband’s ability to fulfill their needs as a way to cover up their own guilt, sometimes because she is lousy with her finances or acts like a spoiled brat to get her way.

So a red flag for me is a woman claiming repeatedly that her husband is a monster or completely inept, making her a chronic victim, especially if she needs to tell the stories over and over, reliving the pain and the drama.

Women will also tell friends about how inept her husband is so they may justify their own affairs, often times emotional affairs or even just crushes.

Another thing I’ve witnessed is women are comfortable with being passive in their sexual lives, while they have no problem rallying against their husband’s other bad habits right to his face, so they share their sexual frustrations with their friends, undermining and hurting him in a way he can’t defend himself against,  then berating and even abusing their husbands to their faces about other things.

So for women, the reasons they share outside of their relationship:  1) mask or relieve guilt for something they’ve done wrong 2) justify an emotional crush or affair 3) self-enjoyment in their own victimization 4) extort sympathy for emotional dominance and 5) demonstrate their sexual passivity that relates back to their identity as a victim.

Healthy and Fulfilled People Do Not Share Intimate Matters That Do Not Concern Others

So my observation is that happy healthy people don’t expose their partner to the judgment of others or share their frustration with others unless they are trying to gain sympathy that covers up or distracts from how they are mistreating their partner.

To make a sweeping judgment on the human race, I’d say we were all at some level trying to avoid our own accountability because we are all trying to enjoy a prolonged adolescence and need to grow up.

Like I’ve said before, you don’t need a sex life where you are swinging from chandeliers, and intimacy can be at its peak if you are simply snuggling at the counter waiting for the coffee to perk.

And if you go through a checklist and realize you are justified in your disappointments and frustrations, take it to your partner, not outside of your relationship.

If they don’t want to deal with it, there are consequences for that that doesn’t have you playing the victim.

But this month I certainly hope you are feeling very thankful for your partner, the comfort and release they provide, and the intimacy, security, and comfort you build together.

You can’t be thankful unless you first reflect thoughtfully, take accountability, and take credit.  

Happy Thanksgiving!