Monthly Archives: October 2014

Oct 29

4 Ways a Midlife Career Change Can Help Your Marriage

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

4 Ways a Midlife Career Change Can Help Your Marriage

Note: This is a guest post from Amanda Brown.

A more fulfilling life outside your marriage can help you find the way to more fulfillment within the marriage.

If you’re not happy with your current career, why wait to make a change?

Check out these four ways to improve your career and your marriage simultaneously.

1. Reconnect with Your Passions

Now is the time to reconnect with your passions, inspirations, and values – the things that brought you to the marriage to begin with.

Your 40s and 50s are an age when you naturally begin to reassess your life and look for more inspiration. Once you have dispensed with many of the responsibilities of raising a family and supporting them with a lucrative career, it’s time to ask what you would have chosen to do with your life if money had never been an object.

You may not be in a position to volunteer your time or work at a low-paying job, but there are still many opportunities out there for fulfilling your dreams without sacrificing your income.

2. Freshen Things Up

Leave your comfort zone, and you may find that you feel empowered and have found a fresh outlook on life. Forcing yourself to experiment with new experiences on a regular basis can have a major impact on your perspective and sense of belonging in the world.

Feel better about yourself and be more attractive to your spouse by doing something that makes the household more money and/or involves some old-fashioned bootstrapping. In this sense, you might find it most fulfilling to become an independent entrepreneur or local small business owner.

3. Get in the Empathy Zone

Many people who make midlife career changes choose jobs that allow them to help others as well as themselves. This can nourish your sense of empathy, which, in turn, will make you a more attentive and sensitive spouse.

Your spouse will notice the change, which means that more feelings of affection will find their way back to you, too. It’s a win-win.

Jobs that involve helping others as a means to personal and marriage fulfillment include elementary school teacher, freelance interior designer, and certified nurse midwife.

4. Get in Touch With Your Mature Self

In order to figure out what your calling is, ask yourself what your values are now. Remember that your values may have changed over the years, and what’s important to you now may not be what you thought was critical when you first started out.

A midlife career change is a great opportunity to go into a field that may have been off-limits earlier in life due to various stigmas. For instance, nursing is often misunderstood to be a female profession, and young adults are unlikely to study the field. But older men already established in other careers are more likely to join the healthcare field and can benefit from salaries as high as they experienced in the corporate world.

Leaving behind these kinds of prejudices will allow you to be happier in your career choice, which will make you a better husband or wife.

Your midlife career change is an opportunity for major growth and actualization – not only for you but for your marriage as well. On the other hand, sometimes improving your home life requires a new perspective on what work means to you.

Ask yourself whether you can best fulfill your calling by making it into a career, or by choosing a career which will not get in the way of your calling.

 

Image via Flickr by Defence Images

Oct 27

Supporting Your Spouse’s Interests (Even the Ones that Bug You)

By E.J. Smith | Help

ID-100224538Do you consider yourself a supportive spouse to your husband or wife’s interests and aspirations? Do you value and support activities that are meaningful to them?

I think in general, people like to consider themselves supportive of their loved ones. I have found— and truly this is just plain old common sense— that people are much more apt to enthusiastically support their partner’s hobbies and interests if they themselves can find personal value in the pursuit as well.

Pretty obvious, right?

Let’s Talk Attraction

When we talk about attraction and the things that bring people together in the first place, shared values and common interests rank pretty darn high on the list of positive attraction factors. Even in cases where couples seem to be the perfect examples of the old phrase “opposites attract,” a brief interview will more than likely reveal that those seemingly “opposite” individuals recognize value in the traits of their loved one.

Not too long ago, I read a great article on Psychology Today that described this very phenomenon with a good amount of depth. This article spoke to me particularly because so many people who know Greg and I marvel at the fact that two people with such seemingly different personalities could stand to live under one roof. And yet, here we are! He’s the macro to my micro. I’m the early bird to his night owl.

The truth is that while outward appearances and modus operandi might vary greatly, in many ways— our values align quite well. For example, my husband I both value fitness and physical health a great deal, so the time he spends apart from me while training (and vice versa) are not (generally) points of contention. Sometimes we’ll even train together. And thank God for that! Sharing a life with someone who values the things that you do eliminates a lot of potential headaches.

But there are those things…

Those interests, those quirks, those “Hey-doesn’t this look fun?” moments that can leave a person looking (and feeling) ashen or disgusted at the mere thought. Greg and I recently encountered one of those moments. And while it might sound silly to you— I promise that it was something I had to personally struggle with.

Bugs.

He likes bugs. A lot.

Yup. Greg has an unbelievable (and as far as I’m concerned— incomprehensible) fascination with entomology. For those of you who might not know, entomology is the study of insects. Ick. I don’t get it. I really don’t. And truthfully, I don’t really want to understand it. I want no part in it. And just to help you understand his level of interest— it’s pretty much proportional to my level of disgust.

So assuming I’m not the only one who has raised an eyebrow, felt entirely befuddled (or managed a full grossed-out seizure) at their spouses interests— I thought I would share some of my process that has allowed me to come to find some piece, and strengthen my respect for the man I am lucky enough to call my husband (weird, gross, oh-my-gosh-what-is-that-in-my-freezer interests included).

While I don’t expect a multitude of martial issues revolve around insects, I think teaching yourself how to logically explore a problem before confronting your spouse is a universally valuable lesson.

EJ’s Process for DeBugging the Process of Supporting Your Spouse

1) Gain some perspective: By this I mean, I had to ask myself, “Outside of your personal preferences is the matter at hand something with objectively negative implications? Is it illegal or putting our family at serious risk?”

Okay, so he likes bugs and is studying them… and is currently putting together a collection of local specimens, that sometimes occupy my freezer and the desk in our home office. But no— I don’t think he’s doing anything illegal or putting our family at risk. He’s not taking career tips from Walter White by cooking meth, or you know— planning to knock off a bank. If any of those were true, we’d be having a different conversation.

2) If not that, then what? (Note: “I don’t know, it just bothers me” is not an acceptable answer.)

So if “the thing” in question isn’t inherently bad or evil, and it bothers you, there must be something behind it. Don’t be afraid to dig or look for the why. And don’t judge your why either. It is what it is.

For me—this part took the longest.

After some careful thought, I figured out that for me — bugs are “dirty”. Even dead ones. My mother kept an immaculate home. The standard was set high.

The other part of the issue was that my fear coupled with the delicate work of this particular hobby created a lot of separation from each other.  As silly as it sounds, I felt slightly 2nd tier to a bunch of bugs! Not cool! Interesting to note that I never felt this way when he started up 2 different martial arts classes that take up WAY more time. See what happens when you value something as opposed to not?

3) Look for points of compromise. The major reason why Step 2 is so important is because it creates the foundation to figure out points of compromise.

Is there a way we can make this work? Compromise, in case you haven’t heard is a huge part of creating a healthy marriage. And in this particular case, since the issue largely existed between my two ears— the solutions were relatively simple.

4) Approach your spouse and consider trying the following formula.

Using “I” statements:

  • Identify the problem
  • Briefly explain your rationale.
  • Offer some solutions or compromises and see where the conversation leads.

For us, we were able to reach a meaningful compromise. The bugs now reside in a designated area of the house that I don’t typically use. (The home office is dead to me.) Out of sight, out of mind. At some point, I plan to overcome my ‘issue’ so that I can appreciate the work he’s currently doing— but for now— this will have to do.  On his end, Greg has agreed to be a little more mindful of our home time together.

Sound Off
Does your spouse have any interests or hobbies that take up a decent amount of time that you just can’t understand? How have you worked through this?

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Oct 19

Is Sex in Your Marriage Inconvenient?

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

marriage-sex-inconvenientRecently on my own blog, I wrote a post about the 5 Worst Excuses for Not Having Sex.

Someone commented on that post inferring that husbands need to let go of this “woe is me” attitude about not getting more sex.

The woman went on to imply that if the husband had to walk in the wife’s shoes for a week, he would see why she isn’t enthused about sex.

Her tone was adversarial, almost as if the husband is one big inconvenience that happens to live in the house (and sex was obviously one big inconvenience that went along with him living there).

Such commentary stirs in me the desire to ask a humble question. If you see yourself in this scenario, I pray you will reflect upon your honest answer.

Is sex in your marriage inconvenient?

Maybe you’re not bitter about sex per se, but at the minimum it is, as the cliche goes,”one more thing on your to-do list.”  It is a chore you avoid as long as possible — until the tension is enough that you give in to tide him over till next time.

This is an important conversation I’m trying to delve into, because disagreements about “frequency” of sex are common in marriage.

One spouse wants sex more than the other spouse, and they are too paralyzed (maybe even too angry) to find a solution that leaves them both feeling satisfied and happy.

I’m not gonna lie.  Marriage is hard (as anyone who is married knows).  But this perspective of viewing sex as a negotiable that you and your spouse will “get around to someday” — or will never get around to — is not working.

It just isn’t.

If that describes your marriage, and you know with everything in you that this is causing horrendous division with the person you love, then I encourage you to take a breath.

Resolve to make some changes.

There are countless marriages that are less than they could be — and less than what the two people who stood at the altar ever envisioned they would be — because of complacency.  And resentment.

And an unwillingness to address real struggles in a way that leads to viable solutions.

I don’t know your particular struggles with sex.  I don’t know if they are because of marital tension or exhaustion or misconceptions about sex, lack of pleasure or deeper issues of having not healed from past sexual trauma, past promiscuity, etc.

I do know this, though.

If you are married, then you can’t ignore this matter of sex.  You owe it not only to your spouse, but also to yourself, to nurture sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Here are 10 questions to ask yourself to get started:

1. Have I been careless with this area of sex in our marriage?

2. If I have been careless, will I be courageous and humble and ask for forgiveness?

3. What do I see are the core issues of our sexual struggles?

4. What can I do to work on those issues?

5. Have I really explored what the Bible says about sexual intimacy in marriage?

6. Do I appreciate not only experiencing sexual pleasure, but also helping my spouse experience it?

7. What Christian resources could I explore specifically on sexual intimacy in marriage? (counseling, books, websites, retreats, etc.)

8. What does sex have to do with strengthening my marriage?

9. Do I love my spouse?

10. How can sex help them experience that love?

Your marriage is worth this kind of reflection and action.  It is.

I and so many other marriage advocates wouldn’t be so passionate about encouraging marriages if we didn’t believe with everything in us that your marriage is worth it.

Oct 15

Headache Again? 3 Real Reasons Why Married Women Lose Interest In Sex

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

3 Real Reasons Why Married Women Lose Interest In SexHas earth shaking, bed breaking sex  turned into a Saturday night snooze fest, or a quickie between taking the dog to the vet and picking the children up from school?

Even though sex is an absolutely critical part of a healthy and happy marriage, many women are losing interest in intimacy with their husbands.

Why does it happen even in the happiest of marriages?

After conducting personal research and reading many letters from people around the world, three problems seem to remain common. Women said their waning interest in sex was related to the low overall satisfaction in life, institutionalizing the relationship, and being de-sexualized.

What does all this mean, and how can we change it?

  1. Low Overall Satisfaction From Life

The reason women lose their libido is often unrelated to relationship issues.

Women can be very happy with their spouse, but not so much with their lives in general. They regularly feel stressed, overloaded with work, and simply bored with their predictable life as a married woman.

Many women don’t realize that this general unhappiness and boredom is the reason behind their libido being so low. A boring sex life is just a part of overall life routine.

Many females admit that there was a lot of desire when they were dating. They were upset when the “honeymoon” was over and regular life problems occurred, moving away the excitement. With both partners working outside of the house, it is no surprise that marital sex has suffered. After working all day, there is little time to do anything else but eat and sleep.

Most women don’t have enough time, and sex becomes not one of their top priorities. What’s more, married women have a hard time with the two different, yet demanding roles that are expected from them.

Going from mommy to vixen is quite difficult. Women of young children often feel over-touched or on a sensory overload and therefore, the idea of her husband wanting to touch her later that night is totally rejected.

When was the last time you dated your spouse?

I don’t mean spending time watching TV with her, but really DATE your partner.  Put a thrill of excitement into your relationship by doing something unusual with your wife. Make sure that someone is taking care of your kids, so she can relax and spend quality time with you.

Take her for a diner or a short trip out of town, so she can remind herself of the old sweet times when you will still dating. Let her forget about everyday issues and rediscover your passion.

  1. Lack Of Excitement

At some point marital sex is too socially sanctioned, sanitized, and women are absolutely tired of the same old routine.

Since they have been married, wives know exactly how their husband is going to touch them, they know how much their spouses love them and they are not embarrassed to take their clothes off. There’s a comfort there that is important to people which is a crucial part of any happy marriage. On the other hand, this lack of adventurousness is followed by a diminishing of desire.

Biologically speaking, desire is fueled by the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine levels rise in response to anticipation and excitement.

Knowing what comes next, the brain and other essential body parts say “why bother?” and the level of excitement isn’t there. The women miss the early days of dating with its flirting and uncertainty, which brought a lot of happiness. Stagnant romance and sex is a buzz kill.

Spice up your sex life with new positions, different places to make love, and mastering foreplay. It’s also helpful to take better care of yourself.

When was the last time you went to a gym? I’m sure your wife loves you as you are, but surely you will appear more irresistible to her if you take better care of your body.

  1. Feeling Unattractive

Female desire is somewhat complicated; they want something more than just intimacy. They want to feel needed and wanted.

Most women are not comfortable with their anatomy especially when they are naked. Women who are uncomfortable with themselves masturbate less and have less sex. Their libido has left the building! Only about 29% of women actually achieve an orgasm while having sex, compared to the 75% of men who achieve orgasm.

If more women felt sexually attractive, they might find sex more gratifying and not just another chore that has to be completed. Make sure that your wife knows how much you love her and how beautiful she is.

Realistically speaking, marital love does not mean nonstop hot sex. If more people realized that, then perhaps there would not be such an obsession with sex.

Sex is an expression of love, the sooner we learn to respect, and treat it as such, the sooner we will be able to enjoy it more.

SarahI’m Sarah Williams.

I’m a writer that is passionate about psychology. After several relationships and a LOT of dates, I would like to share my honest female perspective about dating with you on my Wingman Magazine. After all, I’m just a hopeless romantic trying to figure it all out.

Oct 13

10 Romantic Ways To Fall In Love With Your Love This Fall

By Debi Walter | Romance

IMG_9570

Fall is in the air, and it’s my favorite season for many reasons: I love the color God puts on display, I love the cooler weather after a hot summer, and I love the longer evenings to enjoy candlelight dinners.

But the most important one is how it provides some of the best opportunities for romance in your marriage.

This is why I’m providing a list of “Ten Romantic Ways to Fall in Love With Your Love this Fall”.

If you’ve already done some of these–try it again. Or pick something that you’ve never done and have fun!

1.  Go Camping. If this is something you do often, it won’t take any special planning. But if you’ve never enjoyed a night under the stars together you’ll most likely have to invest some time and money making this one happen.

Sometimes the most romantic memories are created when you do something out of your normal routine.

Make your camp site as comfortable as possible and bring real plates and crystal for serving a special dinner around the campfire.

2. Go hiking. If you live in the mountains, this one will be easy. But if you live in an area where hiking isn’t as readily available, plan a weekend away.

Hiking provides time away from technology, which is something we all need from time to time. In order to really connect with your spouse, it requires a willingness to disconnect from the rest of the world.

3. Go biking. So many of the former railroad tracks have been converted to biking/walking trails. The project is called Rails To Trails and are located all across the country. Check out this convenient website to find a trail near you.

4. Plan a backyard bonfire. If you already have a fire pit, this one will be easy. But if you don’t, why not surprise your spouse by getting one and setting it up for a romantic evening under the stars.

Some of our best conversations have taken place in our own backyard watching the flickering flames of a bonfire.

5. Go horseback riding. Oftentimes we reserve these kinds of activities for vacation, but how fun to check out stables near your home and surprise your spouse with a day together in the saddle.

6. Have a pumpkin carving contest. Pick a design that celebrates your marriage in a special way. Here are some great examples of how to take your carving up a notch! 😉

7. Bonfire on the beach or at the lake. There’s something about watching the sunset over a body of water that soothes my soul. Add a bonfire as the stars start to appear and that’s over the top romantic!

In Florida we have fire rings at the beach you can reserve, free of charge.  They’re only available from October through April due to Turtle nesting season.

If you’re planning to visit central Florida, put this at the top of your list!

8. Tour a local vineyard. Vineyards are some of the most romantic places to spend an afternoon together. Add the cooler temperatures of the Fall along with the warm changes in color, and you’re both sure to remember this one as special!

9. Take a train ride to another town and explore the downtown area for an afternoon. In Orlando we have a new Sun Rail that takes you to neighboring towns at minimal cost.

10. Kayaking or Canoeing Picnic. Take a trip down the river and locate a secluded spot for a romantic picnic for two.

 

What are some great romantic fall dates you and your spouse have experienced?  Or are there any you’d suggest to add to the list?  Make sure you leave your ideas in the comments below!

 

Oct 06

The Secret to Buying a Home That You Can Afford

By Kim Hall | Finances & Careers

secret to buying a homeWhen the desire to become a homeowner latches onto your heart, it’s all too easy to lose your mind and ignore your budget.

Even on our most recent adventure—our fifth time around—my husband and I had difficulty keeping our priorities in the forefront.

It becomes even tougher when friends and family members are encouraging you to buy because It’s the same/a little more/a little less than renting! and You won’t be throwing your money away every month!

Whatever the source, that temptation can be hard to resist.

However, if you are willing to follow a simple formula, you will increase your odds of buying a house you can love and live with.

So what’s the secret to buying a home you can afford?

Live like you already own the house.

Here’s what that looks like:

1.  Add up the known expenses for the type and size of home you have in mind.

2.  Put these items in your monthly budget, and set the money aside as though you are actually spending it.

3.  Live with these finances as part of your life for at least six months.

If you can successfully and comfortably handle the increase in your budget, you’ll be well on your way to buying a home you can afford.

Plus, you will have set aside six months of the increase in expenses, which will add up to a tidy sum!

To know what you’ll want to include, see the list below.

There are several types of expenses you’ll need to cover.

Some are one-time outlays, and others are monthly or otherwise regularly occurring bills.

1.  Pre-purchase costs. When your offer is accepted on a house, you will need to have inspections done as part of your due diligence. These can typically cost $300-$900 per property.

2.  Down payment. Talk to your bank about what you can expect regarding requirements for a down payment.  As an example, our local credit union requires a minimum of 3%. If you are looking at a $150,000 home, that’s $4,500.

3.  Closing costs. There are various fees for the buyer in a real estate transaction. Typically, these fees—your closing costs—will range from 3-5% of the cost of the amount you borrow.

4.  Mortgage, taxes, house insurance, and PMI.  Again, your bank is a terrific resource for estimating mortgage payments. The yearly property taxes can generally be found in the real estate listing. House insurance can vary tremendously from region to region, so you might want to check with a local insurance agent to see if they can give you a very general idea of what to expect. PMI is the monthly insurance the bank requires on your mortgage until you have paid for at least 20% of the value of your home. Expect to pay anywhere from $35-$70 per $100,000 you borrow. You can subtract what you pay for rent from the total of these four items before adding it to the budget.

5.  Utilities.  You can call the utility company that services a neighborhood, and ask for the average monthly utility costs for the past year for a particular address. If that isn’t possible, speak to folks you trust to get an idea of what you’ll pay in your area for heat, water and sewer, electricity, and trash disposal. Remember, too, to subtract your current utility costs from this total before adding it to your budget.

6.  Appliances, furnishings, and equipment. You’ll probably be surprised at how much it takes to furnish an empty house. Everything from large appliances to installing a new toilet becomes fair game. Even smaller purchases like curtains and bedding can add up pretty quickly, so it’s important they are in the budget. Do a little window shopping, whether online, or in person, to get a feel for the cost of kitchen appliances, furniture, home goods, and equipment, such as  lawnmowers.

7.  Maintenance.  While there are many different variables that will affect how much you’ll need to set aside for repairs and maintenance, setting aside 1%-3% of the cost of your home is a good rule of thumb.

While these figures may seem daunting, they represent a pretty realistic picture of the cost of home ownership.

If going through this exercise reveals you are not financially ready for owning your own home, use this information to create a lifestyle and budget that will take you where you need to be.

That is a far better situation than purchasing your dream house and having it turn into a financial nightmare.

As the Boy Scouts say, “Be prepared!” so when you do buy, you choose a home that comfortably fits your heart and budget.

For a more insight on buying a home, check out these Engaged Marriage posts:

When Should Newlyweds Buy Their First House?

5 Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home

When Should a Couple Rent vs Buy a Home?

Comment: What would you add to this list to help couples buy a home they can truly afford over the long term?

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Oct 01

The 20 Best Marriage Books That Will Change Your Life

By Dustin | Book & Product Reviews

Best Marriage Books You Need to ReadIt’s hard to believe, but this month marks the five-year anniversary of Engaged Marriage!

Over this time, we’ve been blessed to interact with tens of thousands of couples across the world who share our belief that the best way to enjoy the marriage of your dreams is to get engaged and make it happen.

After publishing over 400 posts, getting to know most of the top voices in marriage and self improvement, and reviewing dozens of wonderful books, we’ve pretty much seen it all on the marriage enrichment front.

Today, we want to give YOU a gift in celebration of our anniversary and the incredible community we share here.  I’m excited to share the ultimate guide to the best marriage books in the world.

The Best Marriage Books You Need to Read

Here are the best books you should read to enrich your marriage and your life based on our own experience and feedback from the Engaged Marriage community.

In no particular order, here’s the list:

1. Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman

2. Happy Wives Club by Fawn Weaver

3. 15 Minute Marriage Makeover by Dustin Riechmann

4. Stripped Down by Tony & Alisa DiLorenzo

5. The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex by Sheila Gregorie

6. Marriage Rebranded by Tyler Ward

7. The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

8. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

9. Pursuit of Passion by Jeffrey Murphy & Julie Sibert

10. Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott

11. Sex Savvy by J. Parker

12. The Bible by God

13. The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick

14. Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married by Dr. Gary Chapman

15. Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs

16. Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix

17. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

18. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

19. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas

20. Boundaries In Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

Best Marriage Books

What book would you add to this list?  Tell us your favorite marriage book in the comments below.