Monthly Archives: August 2015

Aug 26

5 Money Moves Happy Couples Make

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

5 Money Moves Happy Couples MakeHave you ever seen one of those cheesy photos of a couple leaning over with their arms around each other, looking at a bank statement with big smiles on their faces?

Yeah, those are stock photos.  They aren’t real.

Unfortunately, for many married couples, the thought of money and finances brings up quite the opposite reaction.

In the early years of our marriage, we simply avoided the topic.  Denial seemed like a pretty good solution until we woke up $54,500 in debt with our first baby on the way.

How does money impact your marriage?  Does it create tension, stress, arguments and maybe even some dishonesty?

I hope that’s not the case, but the good news is that money doesn’t have to be a strain on your relationship.

Believe it or not, money can (and should) create happiness in your marriage when you handle it right.

Not creepy stock-photo happy, but coming together around your finances to achieve your dreams can actually be an awesome way to express your love and enthusiasm for your future together.

Just don’t smile at your bank statements…who has printed bank statements anymore anyhow?

[NOTE: Don’t miss the end of this post for some very exciting news! 🙂 ]

5 Simple Money Moves to Make in Your Marriage

It’s easier than you think to change the conversation around money with your spouse.  And if there is no conversation, that’s probably a good place to start.

Check out these 5 moves that are proven to bring happiness to couples who make them happen.

1. Create a Simple, Goal-Oriented Financial Plan

What are your dreams as a family?  What will it take financially to make it happen?

This is where a plan becomes essential.  It doesn’t require anything fancy, but it does require a good, open dialogue about what you actually want out of life and a goal-oriented game plan for how to take action to achieve the dreams you share.

In our case, it was a “money date” and a lot of conversation that helped us realize we both wanted deeply for Bethany to be a stay-at-home Mom for our kids.  Once we set that as a big goal, we were able to plan a path forward to make it a reality.

2. Make a Simple, Non-Boring Budget

If the “B-word” makes you cringe or throw up in your mouth a little, have no fear.

A budget (you can call it a family spending plan if you’d like) can actually be really simple and still be effective.  There are also lots of great tools to help you get going painlessly.

But the bottom line is you do need to get your income and spending down on paper so you can get real about your cash flow and where you’d like to direct it.

As our friend Dave Ramsey says, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.”

3. Pay Off Debt & Save Money (Fast)

I know this one falls squarely in the “easier said than done” category, but it’s going to be easier than you think once you get going with a motivating plan (#1) and a simple budget (#2).

As freaked out as we were to realize how deep we had gotten into debt, we were also really pumped up to get it paid down so we could realize our new-found goals. And it truly made us happy (freakin’ ecstatic really) to kill debts as fast as possible and celebrate when we met that monster goal of debt freedom!

This is probably an area you’ll need more specific help with – more on that in a minute.

4. Start a Savings & Investment Plan to Support Your Future

I know investing isn’t exactly the sexiest topic, but it’s extremely important to your long-term success and happiness.

If you don’t already know why Albert Einstein called compound interest the most powerful force in the universe, you should look it up for some great motivation to start investing as soon as possible.

It’s never too late and never early enough to start putting some money into high-quality investments that will bring you peace of mind for all of those decades of awesome married life that’s ahead of you.

5. Discuss Money with Your Honey Regularly

Like so many important things, the key to successfully managing money in your marriage is good communication.

The happiest couples have an open and ongoing dialogue about their income, spending, saving, investing and their goals.

This very likely won’t come naturally, so it’s important to have regular “money dates” where you spend some time chatting about money…and more time drinking wine and enjoying the financial peace in your relationship!

Are You Ready to Take the Next Step with Your Money & Your Honey?

These 5 steps are pretty simple on the surface, but of course implementing them can be a challenge.  Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve teamed up Ann Arceo, an awesome couples financial planner from The Savvy Duo to create an easy-to-follow program called “How to Get Control of Your Money & Create the Future You Desire Together

We walk you through these 5 key money moves and showing you exactly how to make them happen in your marriage.

Plus, you’ll have the help you need to overcome the other money frustrations you’ve probably encountered…

…from trouble getting started (or staying on track) to a reluctant spouse.  And we’re giving you all the cool tools you need to make it as easy as possible!

Click Here to Start Your Money Makeover!

How to Get Control of Your Money & Create the Future You Desire Together

The best time to start your new smart money plan was yesterday – the next best is TODAY so don’t delay. 🙂

Aug 17

Why Now Might Just Be the Perfect Time for Crazy Hot Sex

By Julie Sibert | General , Sex & Family Planning

 

crazy-hot-sexNot long ago, I was reading a blog post in which the author meanders through what she wants her daughter to know about sex.

I was struck by how spot on the post was.

I mean seriously.

The post was chock full of beautiful transparency — and hard core truth — about what really makes for great sex. (Even if you don’t have a daughter, read the post).

The gist of that post and many other ones like it is that profound sexual intimacy happens against a backdrop of a husband and wife who know — really know — the messiness and emotional investment of doing life together.

That post does a beautiful job of reminding us that genuine lovemaking is not about mere instant gratification.

How heartbreaking that single teens and young adults give themselves away sexually, long before they are even equipped to recognize what authentic sexual intimacy is.  And yet, our society portrays such scenarios as dripping with passion and sexual ecstasy.

And sadly, many married couples that have indeed grown up enough in their lives and in their marriage to have what truly is hot passionate sex — well, they aren’t.  It’s within their reach, and yet they have shimmied right past it.

What do we do with that irony?

Certainly I get why we are diligent in educating youngsters on the value of waiting until marriage to have sex.  I regularly talk to my teen son about this (and his girlfriend, by the way). And I used to speak in the public schools about abstinence as a realistic choice.  To say I’m not shy about it is an understatement.

BUT I think if we really want to prevent single people from having sex, those of us who are married should do all we can to nurture hot sexual intimacy in our own marriages.  Easy enough, right?

Well, as Christians, we have a long history of  lauding the sin and consequences of sex outside of marriage.  Lamenting about sin on a grand scale is much easier than practicing godliness (1 Corinthians 7) on a small (individual) scale.

What if we gave equal (if not, more) airtime to singing the praises of sex in marriage? And not just sex, but hot passionate “I can’t get enough of you” lovemaking between a husband and a wife?

Extraordinary sex lives in the ordinary. I kid you not. That is where it lives.

Now might just be the time for crazy hot sex in your marriage.

If that is not your reality, what can you do to move in that direction?

For some of you, not only is hot passionate sex not your rule in your marriage; it’s not even your exception.  So to flip a switch and make it a reality at all is not so easy, right?  But what if you could at least begin to uncover what it will take to move in that direction?

Marriage is not meant to be stagnant.  We are always either growing closer or growing apart.

Now might just be the time for crazy hot sex in your marriage.

When I think back on that post I mentioned earlier, I think what I liked so much about it is that it speaks positively of passionate sex that finds its roots in authentic love and marital commitment. It recognizes that marriage is a long haul of give and take, trenches and mountaintops, tiredness and rediscovered sexual enthusiasm.

As much as I want my kids to know the consequences of sex outside of marriage, more than that I want them to know the consequences of sex INSIDE of marriage — the positive, soul enriching, oneness that out-competes against the counterfeit version the media sells.

Is now the time for crazy hot sex in your marriage?

Aug 10

Back To School–It’s Not Just For Kids Anymore

By Debi Walter | Romance

Back to school…three little words that can be a relief to hear or a dreaded reminder that your kids are growing and need new clothes yet again!

Back to school shopping can be a stretch on any budget and the first ones to take a back seat during this budget crunch are usually the parents.

Urgent seasons tend to take our focus off of what’s most important–your marriage–and if you haven’t taken time to plan ahead for the crunch your marriage may go hungry.

Well, not to worry.

I’ve come up with a variety of ways to celebrate the back to school frenzy that won’t hurt your budget or cause your marriage to be neglected.

Take one idea a day and use to communicate in little ways how important your spouse is to you. Even if you don’t have time or money to go out on the town, you can still make the most of each season in meaningful ways.

I’ve broken them down into themes using the subjects of school as my inspiration. Who knows? Your spouse may look forward to school starting again after all. Why not shoot for straight A’s in all subjects?!

Reading

  • Using Post-it notes, write words of encouragement to your spouse. Leave them in places where they’ll find them and pray that it’s at a time when they need it most.
  • Buy a card and mail it to them to receive on the first day of school.
  • Give them a book they’ve been wanting to read and sign the inside as to why you chose it.
  • Read aloud to each other. Here’s a great book for teens and pre-teens with short stories that are enjoyable to hear.

Writing

  • Make a list of all your favorite firsts you’ve enjoyed together and give it to them on the first day of school.
  • Write them a love letter using Dustin’s guide for making it special.
  • Write adjectives that describe your spouse on the bathroom mirror or shower walls.

Arithmetic

  • Come up with a Top Ten List of places you want to go or things you want to do when the kids are grown.
  • Add up all the things you appreciate about your spouse and tell them the sum of your thoughts.
  • Work a Sudoku puzzle together, or have a race and see who can do one fastest.

Recess

  • Most kids love this subject best, next to lunch. Plan a game night choosing from our list of romantic board games.
  • Watch a back-to-school movie from this list from Parent’s Magazine.
  • Pick a Fantasy Football team together and make plans to follow your team throughout the NFL season.

Don’t forget those 9 week report cards where you reward your spouse for all the ways they’ve achieved success in your eyes.

Back-to-School–It’s not just for kids anymore!

Until next time…

Keep Romancing!

(photo)

Aug 06

Practice Makes Passion Possible: 3 Essentials to Build Your Dream Marriage

By Dustin | Romance

Practice Makes Passion Possible

When you first fall in love, happiness comes easy and it seems so effortless to be a good partner.

Your jokes are funny, your thoughts and actions are romantic, and your time together is pretty much all rainbows and butterflies.

It turns out that there’s a good reason for this—a scientific one at that. Your first few months or even years together are shrouded in a chemical cloud of infatuation.

You’re literally high on each other and the lovin’ comes easy.

So what happens a few years down the road after you’ve decided to get married and settle down together?

Well, the chemical boost fades and you’re left with the choice to love your spouse.

This is the part of marriage that sometimes freaks a couple out.

You may start to have doubts about whether you’re still “in love” with your husband or wife. You may look at him or her and wonder when things got so… soft. You may ask yourself where the passion has gone. Trust me, the love is still there, but you can’t rely on
chemistry to make it work on autopilot.

It’s time for you to step up and practice having the marriage you desire. 

Like learning to play the guitar or run a marathon, an awesome marriage is the result of practice. You can have a mediocre relationship without a lot of effort, but the dream marriage you envisioned during your engagement is going to require some good old fashioned hard work.

So, what sort of things do you need to learn and refine to enjoy a thriving marriage?

Based on our own experience and the wisdom gained from working with dozens of other couples, here are three simple steps I’d recommend practicing to keep the passion alive.

1. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.

As your relationship matures, and especially when children enter the picture, it’s frighteningly easy to lose your connection as a couple. Your roles as a parent, caregiver, breadwinner, housekeeper, etc. can be so overwhelming that you never give the time or energy needed to be a great spouse.

I recommend every couple spend at least 15 minutes each day simply being a couple. This is sacred time to enjoy each other and put aside those other roles for a while.

Sit, talk, laugh and be together—simple as that.

2. NEVER STOP DATING.

Do you remember when you were dating? When you’re dating, you don’t need “date nights” because every time you get together it’s all about getting to know each other better and building your relationship.

That’s not the case when you’ve been married for a while. You’re together all the time, which makes it exceedingly easy to get complacent and fail to feed the romantic side of your relationship.

Be sure to schedule a date night every week or two to spend some special time together and rekindle the intimacy between you.

While it’s great to get out of the house for a big night out, this can be as simple as a lunch date or an evening at home together after the kids are in bed.

3. TREAT MARRIAGE LIKE AN INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO.

It’s funny how easy is it to justify spending money on new gadgets, improvements to your home or even lessons to learn a new skill. Yet, when it comes to the most important relationship in your life, many of us shy away from trying to better ourselves.

I can’t recommend enough that you spend some time and money making yourself a better husband or wife. Pick up a course on communication, read a good book and don’t be too proud to sign up for a marriage retreat where you can get away and focus on each other deeply.

When you consider that you’ve devoted the rest of your life to your spouse and you spend everyday together, it’s easy to see that there’s no better return on your investment than in learning the skills you need to be as happy as possible together.

Do yourself a favor and make a commitment today to make your marriage your highest priority (right after God). Devote quality time each day to your spouse, bless your marriage with regular date nights, and do everything you can to be the best husband or wife you can be.

Building your dream marriage isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely worth it.