Monthly Archives: June 2014

Jun 30

Marriage Not Perfect? Not a Problem.

By E.J. Smith | Help

ID-100157103While I’m not exactly sure where I’ll be when this article is published, I want you to know its being written the morning after one of my dearest friend’s wedding. And I’m writing it in one of the café areas in La Guardia airport. For those who might be curious—the wedding was beautiful; the bride—exquisite; the groom – breathless for the first moment he saw her walk down the aisle. If weddings were any indication of a couple’s likelihood of obtaining a true happily ever after, these two would be set! Everything seemed perfect.

 

The Illusion of Perfection.

Of course nothing is ever perfect—especially at weddings. Even at the one I just attended, I’m sure some small behind the scenes detail was amiss (not that guests would’ve ever had any idea—it’s just the way these things go). Heck, at the wedding in Cana something went wrong—they ran out of wine! (John 2:1-11) And if you are one of those rare lucky few who manage to pull of a truly flawless nuptial gala, the marriage to follow is bound to have a few hiccups. But that’s life, right?

 

Where’s the Focus?

I have to admit, however, that I do find it curious that the effort some couples are willing to put into the actual marriages can sometimes pale in comparison to hoops they willingly jump through to pull off a fabulous one day affair. Don’t get me wrong– I love a great wedding, but shouldn’t a great marriage be the real focus?

 

Building a Great, but Not Perfect Marriage

Trust and believe that a great marriage is not necessarily a perfect one. There are tons of couples out there who’ve weathered some serious rough patches, and come out better and stronger. Mistakes themselves don’t necessarily break a marriage. Each one is a learning opportunity. 

Personally, I think Greg and I navigate life’s curveballs like champs. Sometimes we tackle challenges like first round knockouts, and other times we look like champs that have endured a few rounds in the ring—but champs nonetheless.

 

So here are 3 things we do right when things are going wrong. And like any ‘tip’ on the internet, one size most definitely does not fit all. Hopefully, however, you’ll find one that does—or maybe one that inspires one of your own.

 

1)    When a crisis occurs it doesn’t matter whose fault it was…

My mother used to tell me growing up that panic is a luxury—if you have time to panic, it’s not all that bad. When it comes to marriage, I think the same can possibly be said for blame.

Greg and I have already navigated our fair share of crises (lucky us!), and that mentality  has served us well. A flooded living room, a surprise deployment (well, almost), car troubles, surgery and a lost wedding ring… 

In the moment, I think each of us at one point or another could’ve thrown some blame. However, setting that aside and working as a team helped bring us so much closer together that in the end—there was no anger, no tears and no blame to be found.

 

2)    We don’t keep score…anymore.

This is one that my husband taught me, because I used to keep score. It wasn’t an issue as long as I was “pulling my weight”. I used to be obsessed with equality. However, because I’ve always made significantly less money, the great equalizer I relied on was my domestic utility. 

This calculus worked until I left my job to complete my graduate internship. I made $0 and had zero time. I wasn’t around to do anything even close to my “fair share”. I felt horrible and came home crying about what a horrible wife I was for having slacked on what I thought were my “wifely duties”. I was tired and overwhelmed. 

Instead of agreeing with me, Greg reminded me that we are a team for better or worse. Moreover, there had been and would be plenty of times where the burden largely fell/will fall to me. He showed me it wasn’t about keep score; it was about living the life we wanted together.  

 

3)    We take our relationship’s temperature 

There’s two important parts to this one. The first part is that we check in with each other. Nothing is ever a sure thing. And if the saying is true that Rome wasn’t built in a day, the same could be said for its epic collapse. That didn’t occur in a day either.

I’ll never forget the time Greg picked me up from the bookstore when I started researching topics on healthy marriages and relationships in grad school. He found me with a stack of books—6 or 7 high—of titles like, Fighting for your Marriage, Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage, The Relationship Cure and others.

“Uhh… Are we okay?” he asked with a tone that was equal parts of concern and confusion.

“Yeah,” I remarked casually, “Why?”

He pointed at the books. As soon as I looked up and saw his face, I understood.

“Oh God–” I started, “Oh no, no, no… these are for class, love—not us!”

I’m pretty sure I saw the 1000 lb. weight leave his shoulders.

 

That is easily a favorite story of mine, but there have been other times when both of us have checked in and the answers have been less jovial:

“I feel really far away from you.”

I feel as though I need to walk on egg shells because I don’t know how to help—and what I’m trying isn’t working.”

“I miss you, and you’re standing right here… that’s not right.”

 

These conversations are tough to have. And they are worth it. As I’ve written before, as long as couples are dealing with the truth, it’s my belief that two people can surmount some daunting odds. Regular conversations keep little problems from growing into big ones.

Want More? 

Want more tips? Check out 6 Tips to Boost Your Relationship’s Immune System and Grammar for Marriages

What are your best tips for navigating life’s bumps in the road?  

Tell me in the comments below!  Every relationship is different– so feel free to get original!

(photo)

  

 

 

Jun 25

5 Unexpected Ways a Romantic Massage Can Change Your Marriage

By Dustin | Romance

Romantic Couples MassageThe best things in life are often the most simple.

A steaming cup of coffee brought to you in bed. A lingering kiss goodbye. A comforting back rub.

That’s right, a back rub. It doesn’t sound like much, but actually massage between couples comes with a whole host of benefits for your relationship and your close connection with your spouse.

Giving your partner a massage will help you weave strong bonds of trust, supercharge your intimacy and even make you fall a little more in love with them, just like you did at the start of your relationship!

Sound good? Of course it does. Not to mention, a muscle-melting massage feels absolutely fantastic.

Who wouldn’t want access to that on tap?

Massage is the gift that keeps on giving. Once you know how, it’s just one more tool in your relationship arsenal to help you pamper and love your partner on a regular basis.

Massage Your Spouse the RIGHT Way & Enjoy the Ultimate Date Night!

If you're looking for a fun, romantic and intimate date night that you can do at home without the need for a babysitter, you'll love the Melt: Massage for Couples program -

Click Here to Check Out Melt & Save BIG with Engaged Marriage Special Package!

Here are five incredible ways massage can work to transform your relationship:

1. Radically Builds Your Trust & Connection

Trust is a crucial part of any romantic relationship. Chances are, you already inherently trust your spouse more than anyone in the world. But sometimes this bond needs a little work, and sometimes (no matter how close you already are) it’s great to just reinforce it in the name of ongoing development.

Massage has been proven to supercharge the trusting bond between couples.

In order to fully enjoy any massage, you’ll have to deeply relax. It’s a beautiful experience to close your eyes as your partner is rhythmically massaging your neck and shoulders and fall back into them as their hands work magic on your muscles.

Becoming putty in your spouse’s hands and likewise, having them surrender to you in the same unquestioning way, is a lovely, comforting experience that will steep through your entire marriage.

2. Creates Effortless Intimacy

The biggest difference between a massage from a professional massage therapist and one from the person you love is the ability to fully embrace the intimacy created during the experience.

Intimacy is about being emotionally close to another person, and it is not an automatic occurrence in a relationship.

Intimacy should be vigilantly and continuously cultivated in any marriage.

It’s about being vulnerable and still feeling safe. It’s created in private moments through shared experiences.

One of the most important ways to nurture this intimate connection is to spend time alone together, concentrating on each other.

When it comes to massage, you are focusing your absolute attention – even your hands! – on each other in a quiet moment together. Try it and watch your intimate connection skyrocket.

3. Fall In Love (Again!)

When we are in our early courtship phase of our relationship, we have the very distinct experience of falling in love with each other: we get butterflies in our tummy, it’s hard to sleep or eat or think of anything other than our object of affection… our brains quite literally mimic the brain of an addict!

We become addicted to the person we love, and it’s wonderful.

This head-over-heels phase never lasts past 18 months (probably for the best; how would we ever get anything done?) after which it gives way to a deeper, more trusting, bonded love.

However. Researchers have found that simply introducing some novelty into your relationship will ignite your brain with a surge of feel-good hormones, the very same hormones that are present when we first fall in love!

This novelty needn’t be big and dramatic – a small alteration to your daily routine, trying out a new cuisine or learning a new skill together.

When it comes to new skills, massage has to be way up there on the list as recommended for couples. You can do it from the comfort of your lounge room, it’s cheap, fun and easy and the fact that you’ll quite literally have your hands all over each other makes it romantic and exciting too. Cue tummy-butterflies!

4. An Amazing Stay-home Date Night

Scheduled date nights are so important. It’s time you carve out mindfully in your week for your spouse where you can turn off your mobile phone, shut down the laptop and focus one hundred per cent on your spouse.

When you’re massaging, there is no stressful talk of money, or the bad day you had at work.

It’s a chance to be together alone, to relax and to spoil each other with love.

Turn your simple massage into a romantic date night with all the trimmings: light candles, play your partner’s favorite music, have a living room floor picnic with a bottle of wine.

Treating each other to a massage is an easy date night to set up, it’s very cheap to do and you can make it a regular weekly thing, learning new massage strokes or trying new routines each time to keep it fresh and new.

What a beautiful way to spend quality time together as a couple.

5. Slows Time Down

We have high-speed wifi and high-speed attention spans these days. Is it just me, or does it sometimes seem like the world spins a little faster than it did 10 years ago?

Some nights, you just want to stop, breathe and slow time down.

Massaging your partner is great practice in doing this. You get to focus on just one thing (a wonderful remedy for chronic multi-taskers), you need to mindfully relax into your massage (there are no points for finishing first in massage!) and you can get completely lost in the little world you set up for you and your partner.

Carving out this extra time and space for your marriage to abundantly thrive is vital to your relationship.

Pause. Breathe. Connect. Love… Just be.

Each moment we have here together is precious and massage is a lovely way to stretch those moments out while connecting completely with your spouse.

How to Enjoy Massage In YOUR Marriage

The info above was provided by friends of mine who know a thing or two about massage – Denis and Emma Merkas are the amazingly talented Australian couple behind Couples Massage Courses.

Bethany and I discovered their video courses a little while back, and I have to tell you they’ve made a powerful difference in our intimacy.

Whether it’s a short foot rub done the right way or a date night complete with an awesome 15-minute neck/shoulder massage, it’s really amazing how much good massage can do for a relationship.

I’ve tried doing back massages before, but the results were less than stellar:

  • I made her neck sore.
  • My hands hurt after about two minutes.
  • I didn’t really know what do with my hands and felt a little awkward.
  • I caused more pain than pleasure.

Can you relate?  It turns out that a deeply enjoyable massage isn’t hard at all once you learn the basics the right way.

I’ll let Denis explain his approach to massage and what it’s meant for he and Emma’s marriage:

 

After I raved about their video series and asked what we could do to bring the magic of couples massage to our community, Denis and Emma graciously agreed to give a BIG discount to Engaged Marriage readers on their premium Melt Massage video course.

When you join through this special link, you’ll get the best of everything:

  • Lifetime, unlimited access to all their high-quality video courses, ready to stream directly to your smart TV, laptop, iPad or tablet. Watch as many times as you like.
  • 17 simple and easy massage techniques, broken down stroke by stroke by a professional massage therapist
  • 3 follow-along massage routines that combine our signature strokes into a 5-minute, 15-minute and epic 30-minute massage routine
  • All techniques are designed for the home. No special equipment needed. Learn in your living room. Just add oil.
  • All their follow-along routines are downloadable when you sign up for lifetime access. That means you can put them on your device and take them with you next time you have a weekend away without your wifi access!

Everything is absolutely PG-rated with fully clothed demonstrations by Denis and Emma of the massage techniques.  While your experience together may very well be sensual, these videos are definitely done in good taste.

And you’ll save money simply because you’re an EM reader – how cool is that!

Massage Your Spouse the RIGHT Way & Enjoy the Ultimate Date Night!

If you're looking for a fun, romantic and intimate date night that you can do at home without the need for a babysitter, you'll love the Melt: Massage for Couples program -

Click Here to Check Out Melt & Save BIG with Engaged Marriage Special Package!

Just click here to get all the details and grab your couple’s massage course – I guarantee you’ll love it and your husband or wife will love you even more for investing in it!

Enjoy and let us know how your first massage date night goes. 😉

Melt Couples Massage

Jun 16

Why “Going Through The Motions” is Robbing You of Great Sex

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

going-through-the-motions-sexMy husband recently switched from a second shift schedule to a more “normal” day schedule.

Americanized life — and maybe life in other countries too — tends to gravitate toward “work during the day” and “off in the evenings and on weekends.”

While I know that’s not everyone’s reality (it wasn’t ours for years), it is what is most conducive to things like kids’ sporting commitments, evening birthday parties, dinner out with friends and catching a 6 p.m. movie.

So, in many regards, we were thrilled when his schedule went to a shift of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Thrilled I tell you!

What we didn’t anticipate is the toll that new schedule would take on our sexual intimacy.  

I. Kid. You. Not.

With his previous schedule, we had become accustomed to having sex late at night — and by late, I could really say “early in the morn,” because we were often having sex at 1 a.m.

Sure, with the new schedule he was now coming home from work by 3:30 p.m., but our evenings and nighttime hours became consumed with various life activities and responsibilities.

By the time we made it to bed, it was to sleep, not to have sex — because he had to get up at 5:30 a.m.

We found ourselves drifting toward a lot less sex.

But there was a positive we discovered (which I think is going to get us back on track for more frequent sex as well).

What we discovered is that we had lost touch with what it means to be ravenously desired sexually.  In other words, sex with the old schedule was a lot more frequent, but it was too often characterized by “going through the motions.”  

Don’t get me wrong.  It was still good.

I mean, we both like sex a lot, so it’s not that we didn’t enjoy it.  We were having sex so often, though, that it had become — I hate to admit it — somewhat routine.

Enter “new work schedule” stage right.

When we’ve made love lately, we both have noticed how powerful it is to want to be wanted sexually.

When the person you’ve married can’t wait to get their hands on your body and you mutually can’t wait to get your hands on theirs, it’s an intensity unlike anything else.

And I believe we get a glimpse of God’s kindness in that He gave us sex not only to protect our marriage, but also to infuse it with sexual passion and playfulness.

My point?

Have you become comfortable with simply “going through the motions” in your sexual intimacy? Have you lost a sense of what turns you each on?

Sadly, “going through the motions” too much will rob you of great sex.  What will wake you up from that?

For us it was a work schedule change. For you, it might be this blog or something else you read. It might be that you are at a sexual crossroads

It might even be a comment from your spouse, who realized awhile back that it would be better for both of you if “going through the motions” sex was more of the exception than the rule in your marriage.

There’s a lot to be said for wanting to be wanted sexually — and mutually running toward that feeling with abandon.

If “going through the motions” is robbing you of great sex, what will you do about it?  

Jun 13

3 Simple Ways for Couples to Exercise When You Have No Time

By Dustin | Time Management

Note: This is a guest post from my good friend Tony DiLorenzo at Fit Marriage.

3 Simple Ways for Busy Couples to Find Time to ExerciseMany years ago, before I got married and had kids, I can remember when I would stroll to the gym, workout for an hour or two, play some basketball, and then hangout with my friends afterwards.

Working out was simple and easy. The biggest factor for me was that I simply needed to get up and get my butt to the gym.

Those were some good times. Looking back, I wish I would have cherished those days more.

Now, 15 years of marriage and two kids later, it can be darn tough to not only get myself out of bed, but find the time to workout within my family structure.

It’s not just me anymore. Alisa, my lovely wife, enjoys working out too. If we want to get away from the house it means that the two of us have to be on the same page.

Luckily for us, we have worked through these issues, and I’m going to share how we have made fitness work in our busy family.

Workout Together

We resisted working out together for the longest time. It wasn’t that we didn’t enjoy being around each other, but a lack of communicating our goals.

I would push myself hard during workouts. Because I was pushing so hard, I expected Alisa to do the same.

The thing is that we had two different goals. My pushing Alisa during fitness pushed her away. She didn’t want to spend time with me as it made her feel inadequate. Looking back I can’t blame her for not wanting to workout with me.

Since that time, we have learned to express and share our goals when we start a new fitness program. It helps us to encourage one another instead of compete with each other.

Working out and being fit with your spouse isn’t a competition that requires a trip to on of the Chiropractors in Fulham afterwards. It is a time for the two of you to support and lift up one another.

Split Up and Get Outside

Over the years there have been numerous times when we wanted to be outside walking, running, biking, or going to a bootcamp. With two kids both of us can’t pick up and leave, and it is a bit tough to take younger kids along all the time.

During these times in our marriage, we sit down to talk through how both of us can get outside 2-3 times per week. What we do is look at our calendars and write down which days each of us can get outside for our workouts.

On days that Alisa goes out for her walks, I make those my weight lifting or inside cardio days. When I go out on a bike ride, Alisa will do an at-home workout that is in line with her goals.

There are those rare occasions when both kids are gone and we make sure to take advantage of those times. We usually get out for a quick 3-4 mile walk.

The key here is that we serve each other and know that by supporting one another we are building up our marriage.

Enjoy Quick & Effective Workouts

Lastly, when our kids were much smaller and time was of the essence, we were all about quick and effective workouts. These workouts lasted 15-30 minutes max.

What we loved about these and still like about these is that we got something in for the day. Don’t miss out on Thrive90 Fitness. We developed this especially for us and busy couples everywhere.

We realized that what we were doing wasn’t going to transform us 180 degrees in 90 days, but the small amount we did each day was having a profound impact on our lives.

After these quick and effective workouts our minds were clear, our endorphins were high, and it increased our desire to be sexually intimate with one another.

Where Are You Right Now?

Which of these fits your marriage/family situation?

Now is the time to determine what phase of your marriage and fitness you are in. No matter where you are I believe you can find time in your day to make fitness happen for you and your spouse.

Do you want to know the key?

I’m sure you do…START.

That’s it, start with a conversation with your spouse and start doing something that will be a benefit to your overall fitness.

Jun 13

Now You’re Married, What About Your Career?

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

Now You're Marriage, What About Your Career?Note: This is a guest post from Amanda Brown.

Although there is an increasing trend of later-in-life marriages in the United States, plenty of young lovers are still tying the knot as their first step towards building their lives.

But once the wedding has come and gone, it may be time to think about adding full-time employment to your routine. It’s a daunting task, but the emotional and financial benefits of managing your career and family are worth it in the end.

Why Get Married First?

There are plenty of reasons why someone might want to start a family before settling into a career. Married men typically make more money than bachelors, and it’s definitely easier for a new mother to ease into maternity without having to schedule long periods of time off from work.

Finally, you have the rest of your life to settle into a work routine, so you might as well spend your youth with someone you love.

Work and Family Don’t Mix

Once you’ve started working full-time, you need to remind yourself to keep your work life and your family life separated at times.

If something bad happens at home, you have to leave your feelings behind once you step into your office. The same goes for stressful work situations; don’t let them affect you when you’re back at home.

Keeping your job and your family in different places emotionally will help maintain your positivity overall when trying to balance the two.

Support Your Spouse

Separating your two lives doesn’t necessarily mean building a brick wall between them, however. You will frequently face tough decisions at work and at home, and you shouldn’t have to face them all by yourself.

Involving your spouse in your more troubling moments will make the decisions easier to make, as well as strengthen the connection you share. Do the same for your spouse. Get to know the kinds of issues they have to deal with on a daily basis and figure out the best way to help them through.

And, of course, always make financial decisions as a pair, especially if your marriage included joining your bank accounts.

Prepare to Make Sacrifices

Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that you will often have to make sacrifices when it comes to your family and your job. An important project at work might keep you from seeing your kid’s school play. Likewise, you might have to stay home from work to take care of your spouse when they are sick.

Accepting that sacrifices are unavoidable will help you understand the benefits of making them, whether that means a well-earned bonus check or a stronger bond between you and your loved ones.

Do What You Love

You love your family, why not love your work?

Although not everyone can snag their dream job, it’s likely that there’s something out there that you will enjoy. If you have a passion for cooking, try to get into a restaurant’s kitchen. If you love to help others, you can obtain a nursing degree.

But even if you can’t think of anything you’d like to do for a living, you can at least try find some friendly coworkers you enjoy working around. Being happier at work will make you happier at home.

Take Time for Yourself

Regardless of how much you care about your job and your spouse, you cannot forget about the third thing you’re trying to juggle: yourself. Putting all of your time into your work and your family can be incredibly rewarding on those fronts but might leave you feeling stressed and depressed.

You have to find some time to be alone every now and then. Do something nice for yourself, like taking a long bath or buying yourself a little gift. Taking time for yourself will refresh you when you return to your main tasks as an employee and a spouse, helping you work harder and love longer.

Juggling your family, a career, and your own personal life is no easy feat, but coming up with a plan and seeing it through will certainly help your bank account and your relationship in the long run.

Note: This is a guest post from Amanda Brown.

Jun 09

The Rhythm Of Romance

By Debi Walter | Romance

What do you think of when you hear the word “Romance”?

Most likely you think of goosebumps and floating hearts while soft music plays as you dance together under a starlit sky.

Sure these things can be a part of the romance you experience as husband and wife, but it doesn’t occur most of the time, nor does it have to.

After 35 years of marriage, Tom and I have come to a place of enjoying romance on a daily basis, and you probably wouldn’t notice it if you were to spend an afternoon with us.

You see, romance is so much more than Hallmark could ever express. It is more than Hollywood could ever depict on the big screen.

It is made up of the thousand little choices we make each and every day. 

Romance is how we talk to each other. It’s saying please and thank you. It’s extending common courtesies to each other without expecting anything in return. It’s being nice and kind. But it’s more…

Romance is doing things for each other without having to be asked. It’s taking out the garbage without being reminded. It’s keeping up with whatever household task is important to your spouse. It’s found in the doing, not just the hearing. But it’s more…

Romance is about listening. I heard one man say that he can be talking to a group of guys in a crowded room, but when his wife touches his arm and says his name, he stops everything to listen to her voice above all the others. He has made her his highest priority, and she knows it. Can your spouse interrupt you and find your smile waiting? and not your frustration? or worse–your anger? But it’s more…

Romance is about the hundreds of daily choices you make. It’s preferring your spouse’s desires to your own. It’s choosing to believe the best about them and not expect the worst. It’s not always easy to put your spouse first–we are such selfish beings, but to those who find the way to do this–romance is alive and well in that relationship. But it’s more…

Romance is the sharing of the mundane days of life. There is no one on the earth who has shared the same experiences as me more than my husband. We have faced joy and trial, triumph and defeat. We have helped each other up and we have caught each other when we’ve fallen.  It is waking up each morning to bed head, and morning breath and seeing the gift they still are to you. But romance is much more…

Romance is the lifeblood of marriage. It is the activity of love that flows through your oneness. It may look completely different in your relationship, but as long as the two of you enjoy it–That. Is. Enough.

This is why comparing your marriage with someone else’s is never profitable. Each marriage expresses romance in a way that is unique to them alone. We have no right to judge, criticize or elevate one marriage over another.

Our responsibility is to learn the rhythm of romance in our own home.

Do you recognize it when you hear it? It may be playing loud and clear, but only those who are tuned in will hear.

Why don’t you sit for a few moments today and consider how romance plays out in your marriage? Pray and ask God to open your ears to hear it more clearly. He will help you–after all marriage was His idea in the first place, and so was romance.

 

Jun 02

A thrifty DIY investment that pays dividends

By Kim Hall | Household Management

thrifty diy investment that pays dividendsIf you’ve bought your first home, you are familiar with the exhilaration of being handed your first set of keys and no longer having to tiptoe or keep the kids or pets quiet so as not to disturb the neighbors who are a mere thin floor, ceiling, or wall away.

You are probably also familiar with the list of projects that just keeps growing as the years pass.

I don’t recommend putting off almost all projects like we have in the past, only to later ratchet up the to-do list in an effort to get the house looking great so you can put it up for sale.

There is a lot to be said for choosing your upgrades wisely and being able to enjoy them while you still live in the home. 

Improvements are not all equal

While all improvements are generally good for one reason or another, some can be an investment that will pay dividends both now and later.

A kitchen facelift is one of those projects, and the especially good news is that the actual experience needed is minimal, depending on how much you decide to change.

We moved to Tennessee last summer and recently purchased a home we love.

Although it met our criteria of being structurally sound and move-in ready, we decided to budget for sprucing up the kitchen because it was straight out of the 1980’s: dark mauve walls and equally dark stained oak cabinets with very dated hardware. Plus, there was a countertop we wanted to move about a foot higher to accommodate swiveling bar stools so our company could sit and visit if we were working in the kitchen.

Oak kitchen mauve walls before wm

Lay the groundwork, do the deed

After much discussion, planning, and testing, we decided to go with buttery yellow walls and a soft off-white for the cabinets. We also thought we’d attach vinyl floor tiles to the backside of the kitchen counter to give it a richer look that offset the white. They look like expensive ceramic tile when installed and are durable, hide the dirt, and easy to clean.

We made a plan, purchased the materials, and proceeded to clean, sand, paint, hammer, glue, and nail our way to a fresh new look.

While I couldn’t tell you the exact cost, I’ll share what I do know:

Hours spent: Many. Sorry, I just didn’t keep track.

Cost: $407. We already owned paint brushes, sand paper, etc, so those things are not part of this total. The cost did include a spiffy new faucet on clearance—$105—because the old one leaked. Also, when I used the old sprayer, it stuck in the “on” position and continued to soak me and everything else in range. If we had gone with just paint, new hardware and hinges, the cost would have been about $220.

yellow white kitchen diy after wm 

Here are some of the dividends you, too, can enjoy, doing a project like this:

1. You get to work towards a tangible, short-term goal with your spouse. The time spent together can be joyful, and it can also provide practice in being generous with your patience. 🙂 For example, when my husband was placing the counter onto the brand new wood support brackets, he hit one of the brackets and broke it in half. The fix was simple, and he moved the bracket next to the wall where it won’t show. Problem solved, no fighting needed. If you are concerned about too much time together, however, I suggest checking out this wisdom from Dustin about co-puttering.

2. You get to enjoy the fruit of your labor. This is a huge improvement over hurriedly completing projects because you want the house to look good when you put it up for sale in the very near future. We’ve done it both ways, and living with the fresh new look and more user-friendly end result is much preferred. We enjoy such a sense of delight and satisfaction every time we walk into our newly bright and sunny kitchen!

3. You will find the space easier to keep clean. The Broken Window theory basically states that when a building is in disrepair, more damage is apt to be done. Conversely, when it is kept in good shape, it is less of a target. The same holds true for your home. While you may have tolerated and/or not even noticed everyday grime on your cabinets, you are much more apt to stay vigilant in keeping your new space clean and tidy.

4. You may be more comfortable having friends and family over. As Lisa-Jo Baker says, “If I wait for my house or my life to be perfect before ever inviting someone into it, I just might never let anyone in.” Like Lisa-Jo, I believe we shouldn’t wait for the perfectly decorated home before throwing open the door to generous hospitality. That being said, if freshening up or remodeling a space gets you comfortable with hospitality, go for it!

5. When you decide to sell your home, your efforts could pay off. Kitchens are important to buyers, and a brighter and more up-to-date space just shows better and is more appealing. Plus, you may be able to get a better price for your house. As the site RealEstate.com notes, “Kitchens tend to be the heart of a family home so anything you do to improve your kitchen will add value.”

 

I believe paint gives a lot of bang for the buck, and I recommend it for most any room that needs a facelift.

If you would like to tackle a kitchen facelift but need direction, The Frugal Girl shared a practical how-to post here.

For more background on two DIY products that I consider must-haves for freshening and refinishing, read this.

One last thing: Do you remember my post about places to find free and nearly free stuff? My hubbie picked up the old-fashioned orange and blue soda framed print showing on the left wall in the photo above on a regular walk through our neighborhood. The homeowners had put it in a cardboard box with other items to be picked up in the morning with the trash. Yes, we did a little neighborhood curb shopping that evening. 🙂

Question: What DIY investment have you made in your home?