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Jan 19

6 Tips for Creating a Household Budget

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

6 Tips for Creating a Household BudgetThey say opposites attract, but opposite views on finances can lead to dangerous territory in a marriage.

Many couples run into issues when they realize that one is a saver and the other is a spender.

One of the best ways to help lower financial stress in your marriage is to create a household budget.

Examine All Your Spending Habits

The first step to creating a household budget is to figure out exactly where you and your family are spending money.

When you’re writing down the categories you spend money on, don’t forget to include regular necessities that occur every month, such as groceries, mortgage or rent, utilities, credit card bills, and other loans.

Next, count in variable expenses such as emergency savings, vacations, and money for dining out. Once you’ve accounted for every expense you can think of, subtract the expenses from your household income.

It’s very possible that you’ll end up with a negative number at this point.

Find Categories Where You Can Cut Spending

If you do come up with a negative number, that means you’re spending more than you’re making. While it’s hard to do, you have to go back through your categories and figure out where you can cut spending.

The first categories you need to work with are the recreational ones.

While it’s not enjoyable, cutting back on money spent for vacations and meals out during the short term will help you reach stability in your budget for the long term.

Create a Weekly Budget

After you’ve decided where you can cut expenses, it’s time to create a weekly budget. Weekly budgets are better than monthly ones because they’re easier to create and they leave less room for error.

While you’re creating your weekly budget, don’t forget to plan for emergencies and put aside money for special occasions such as holidays and birthdays.

Make a Plan for Leftover Money

As your budget starts to become firmer, you should start to have some money remaining every month.

While you can certainly spend this money on the recreation categories that you had to cut from earlier, you should plan to save some of that money as well. After all, while one reason for setting a budget is to help you stay in the black, it’s also supposed to help you create a healthy savings.

Whether you invest this money in a mutual fund, add to your savings account, or make an additional contribution to your retirement fund, it’s important to create a plan and stick with it.

If you just let this money sit around, you’re less likely to save it and more likely to spend it.

Pay With Cash

One great way to stick with a budget is to prevent small expenses from adding up.

To do so, figure out how much you spend every week and take out just enough cash to cover those expenses. When you use cash to cover discretionary expenses, it’s easier to prevent overspending than with a debit card or credit card, where small expenses can add up before you even realize it.

When you see that you won’t have much cash left if you get that extra cup of coffee in the morning, you’re more likely to skip buying items that you don’t really need.

Sign Up With a Budget Website

If you’d like an online tool to help you create and balance your household budget, consider signing up for a website like Mint.com or You Need A Budget.

To begin on this free money-management website, simply use a device like one of the best 2-in-1 laptops from Lenovo to link all your financial accounts. Since these PCs can convert into a laptop, tent, stand, or tablet, it’s easy to use these powerful tools to help you manage your money, regardless of where you are or what you’re doing.

Simply add your expenses in typical categories, including gas, groceries, and credit card payments and create a budget around your spending patterns.

To help prevent financial issues from entering your marriage and causing stress, it’s important to work together to create and follow a budget.

Use these tips to make your own household budget and see how you can change your spending and saving habits.

 

(photo credit)

Jan 05

How I Fought To Save My Marriage and Won

By Dustin | Help

How I Fought To Save My Marriage...And WonIf you and your husband decide to a trial separation, just be prepared for comments from others.

They will assume.

They will worry.

Most of all, they will not know the right things to say.

They will think of only two no-no words: marriage problems.

Not that it’s any of their business.

You’re simply telling them so they won’t have to hear it from someone else, or figure it out, or for there to be an awkward situation later.

If you do have a separation, just make sure to coach the people you tell; you can tell them it’s temporary, and that you still love each other.

Separating to Save Your Marriage?

You don’t know where it will lead, but you do know it’s right for you and your relationship.

Because what you’re really doing is giving each other space so you can come together in a new and better way.

You’re not giving up, but instead giving each other a chance.

No matter how it appears to other people, don’t let that deter you from the ultimate goal—saving your marriage.

When Being Apart Helps You Come Together

Annie and her husband agreed to a separation.

It was mostly his idea, and a time for him to really explore who he was and get through some personal issues. Sometimes, as Annie learned, separation isn’t 100% because you don’t want to be married, but rather that you need to relearn how to be yourself.

So that’s what they did.

With big things looming on the horizons—financial issues, the possibility of having children—for them the break was worthwhile. They could think.

It was lonely at times, and confusing at times. That is to be expected. But Annie said being apart made them come together.

Keep Dating While Apart?

One thing they did right: they kept dating.

They’d eat out together and talk. And this is when they would blurt it all out.

Their lists. What they loved about each other, and what they hated about each other.

They laid it all out on the table, so to speak. Those sorts of things are always hard to hear, but sometimes very necessary in order to get unstuck.

They had been stuck, but now they had the beginnings of saving the marriage.

When Marriage Separation Should Be An Option

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together or how strong your marriage was in the past, all marriages go through ups and downs. If your marriage is in a continual down, then maybe marriage separation could be the option that helps you get past it.

It worked for Annie and her husband. They went to couples therapy, and they each spent alone time in therapy.

Having a third party experienced in this sort of thing really helps to reassure and propel each spouse into realizing that things like this happen. No, you’re not the only one who feels this way. And it doesn’t have to end for you to be happy.

Annie was scared that her husband did or would have an affair, since he knew there was a woman he worked with who really got along well with him, and was everything she wasn’t.

But he was willing to work on things. He was trying and not hiding anything. So she let those thoughts go.

Sometimes, however, when they met to talk he would change his story. He’d talk about how he loved her and wanted to get back together; other times he’d say that they weren’t meant to be and it was time to break things off for good.

Really, deep inside he was hurting and confused himself. What he needed to know was how much she wanted it, too.

So Annie did what any woman in love would do—she fought for her marriage…. and won.

Happily Ever After?

They started to cuddle, hold hands, and be intimate more. It was less mechanic and more loving.

They started being less selfish by focusing on themselves, and putting more stock into the other person instead. It worked wonders.

By doing that, they unconditionally loved each other, faults and all, and expected less of each other. In the same breath, they each worked harder on what they could control—themselves.

Annie worked on her faults, and her husband worked on his.

The only thing that couples who separate truly regret is not trying harder to save the marriage sooner.

It seems as if marriage is just there, and it should sustain itself. But that’s not true.

It takes constant effort of nurturing love. Both parties must focus on what is truly important—each other.

Finally, Annie’s husband moved back in. It wasn’t easy, but things were definitely better. They kept going to couples therapy, and now they appreciated each other more. They realized what they could have lost, but were willing to fight for.

In this case, it was worth the fight for both of them. Because in the end, they won each other.

Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples in therapy. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is currently associated with Marriage.com, a reliable resource assisting millions of couples to resolve their marital issues. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arts (Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy).

Dec 03

19 Gift Ideas For Your Guy This Christmas

By Dustin | Romance

19 Gift Ideas For Your Guy This Christmas
‘Tis the season to find a special gift for husband…who refuses to give you any good ideas! 🙂

Are you shopping for your husband and can’t seem to think of a creative idea?

Here are 19 unique ideas to get you started in the right direction.

These all come from Amazon, so they are super-easy to get shipped right to your door.

Even if he already has one or more of the items listed, you may still find some options in the links below to give you the perfect idea for him, your Dad or your son!

The list isn’t in any particular order and prices range from ten dollars to over a hundred.

So whether you are trying to find a stocking stuffer or a the ultimate manly gift, this list should help you give your husband a gift he will enjoy.

Happy shopping!

Fit Bit

Fitbit designs products and experiences that track everyday health and fitness, empowering and inspiring people to lead healthy, more active lives.  Fun gift for those husbands who are interested in fitness!

Kindle Paperwhite

 

Kindle Paperwhite is a great gift idea for those husbands that enjoy reading.  There are many types of Kindles to choose from, but this one allows the reader to use it even in the sunlight with no glare!  He can relax anywhere while reading his favorite book!

 

Echo

 

Amazon Echo is a fun gift for those who love technology! Using voice technology, it can share information, music, audiobooks, news, weather, traffic, sports, and more–instantly!

 

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Grill Tools are a great gift for the guy who loves to cook outdoors!  This set comes with a nifty storage case!

 

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This Yeti Cooler is top of the line when it comes to chilling your drinks and food!

 

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If your husband doesn’t need an entire cooler, this Yeti Can Coozie is the perfect personal sized gift for him!  He’ll thank you when his drink is still cold HOURS later!

 

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Home Brew Kits are a popular gift.  Craft beers are all the rage right now, and making his own brand might be the perfect gift idea!

 

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Art of Appreciation Baskets come in many different varieties.  From candy to meat to snacks, they’ve got you covered!

51PD7s40ZZL._SX522_Cologne is always a great gift.  This scent is refreshing and classic…you can’t go wrong!

816mOAjctSL._SL1500_Tervis Cups are a great stocking stuffer. The insulation makes sure your beverages stay the temperature you prefer.  Many styles to choose from!

 

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A Bose Speaker is the perfect gift for the husband who enjoys listening to music!  This would be perfect if he is in his home office, working in the garage, or doing anything on his “honey-do” list!

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Amazon Fire TV is a useful gift for the whole family! It allows you to listen to music, watch TV shows, movies, and even play games!

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If you are searching for a personalized gift, this Engraved Titanium Ring may be it!  Lots of options available!61uYoMZXfpL._SL1500_Beats Headphones are perfect for the husband who likes to rock out! Many styles and colors are available!

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Is your man high maintenance?  I’m sure he isn’t, but this Man Groomer may be the right gift for him if he is looking to increase comfort and save time!

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Is your husband the Best. Husband. Ever?  If so, this might be the perfect stocking stuffer for him this year!

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Copper Mugs are all the rage!  Perfect for those mixed drinks he likes to enjoy!

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This Voice Activated Alarm Clock is the perfect gift for those guys who like technology…and have trouble with small buttons!

 

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Is your house the party house?  Or does your family enjoy a dance party?  This iON Speaker works well for all of those! If you have a device with music and Bluetooth capability, your party awaits!

 

If you’re the wife, I hope this list gives you some great ideas to really spoil your husband…and if you’re the husband you have some new ideas for your wishlist!

What’s on your gift wishlist right now?  Share it in the comments to help other couples with some new ideas!

 

 

Dec 02

24 Glamorous Gift Ideas to Wow Your Wife This Christmas

By Dustin | Romance

24 Glamorous Gift Ideas to Wow Your Wife This ChristmasThe Christmas season is here!

Are you looking for an awesome gift for your wife to let her know how much you care?

Here are 24 unique ideas to get you started in the right direction.

These all come from Amazon so they’re super-easy to get shipped right to your door.

Even if a particular item doesn’t fit your fancy, you may find some option from the links below to give you the perfect idea!

The list is in no particular order and prices range from ten dollars to over a hundred.  So whether you are trying to find a stocking stuffer or a big gift, this list should help you give your wife a gift she’ll love.

Happy shopping!

 

Leopard Print Infinity Scarf

Infinity Scarves are a fun way to spice up an outfit.  This particular scarf comes in many color combinations, so choose one that you think your wife would enjoy!

Knitted Infinity Scarf

Knitted Scarves are another trendy type of accessory.  These scarves come in many colors and can change the look of any outfit!

Space Dye Infinity Scarf

Chunky Infinity Scarves also add a cozy look and definitely keep you warm during the cold winter months!

 

Alex and Ani Rafaelian Silver Finish Initial Bangle

Alex and Ani Bangle Bracelets are so versatile.  These are meant to be worn stacked, so even if your wife has one, there are so many styles to choose from!

Bella Ryann Silver Plated Birth Crystal

Bella Ryann Bracelets are similar to the Alex and Ani ones, but are about half the cost.  No matter what your wife’s style is, a bracelet (or two) can be found for her!  These are available in silver or gold!

 

Hand Stamped Jewelry

Hand Stamped Necklaces can be personalized with the names of family members.  You can’t go wrong with jewelry!

Perfume

Perfume is a gift for both of you!  This fragrance is a classic choice.

 

Coach Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a useful accessory!  This pair of Coach sunglasses are a trendy look this year.

 

Crossbody Purse

Crossbody Purses are both functional and stylish.

 

Weekender Bag

This Weekender Bag looks fantastic and would be useful when you take your wife away for a romantic overnight stay!

 

Fringe Bootie

Fringed booties are very stylish right now.  They look great with casual or dressy outfits.

Buckled Knee-High Riding Boot

Riding boots are a great accessory.  This taupe color is very versatile, so she can wear them with lots of outfits!

 

Tervis Cup

Tervis Cups are a fun stocking stuffer.  These are great quality and can be found in many different styles!

Insulated Wine Glasses

Insulated Wine Glasses may be the perfect gift!  These can keep her wine or champagne chilled while you relax together!

 

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Keurig coffee makers are a fantastic kitchen appliance!  If your wife is a coffee lover, this may be just the ticket!

 

Kindle Paperwhite

Kindle Paperwhite is a great gift idea for those wives that enjoy reading.  There are many types of Kindles to choose from, but this one allows the reader to use it even in the sunlight with no glare!  She can relax in the sun while reading her favorite book!

 

Echo

Amazon Echo is a fun gift for those who love technology! Using voice technology, it can share information, music, audiobooks, news, weather, traffic, sports, and more–instantly!

 

Fit Bit

Fitbit designs products and experiences that track everyday health and fitness, empowering and inspiring people to lead healthy, more active lives.  Fun gift for those wives who are interested in fitness!

 

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV is a fun and useful gift for the whole family!  Lots of movies and apps.  Hours of entertainment!

 

Bluetooth Headphones

LG Bluetooth Headphones are comfortable and useful!  Whether she is working out or driving in her car, she can listen to music or talk on the phone with ease!

 

Coffee Mug

Best. Wife. Ever. coffee mugs make fun gifts, but also let her know what you really think of her.

Roomba

Roomba robotic vacuums are a great way to help your family save time cleaning!  This means more couple time for you!

 

Luxury Robe

Luxury Robes are a fun gift to receive.  Especially if you give her a gift certificate to a spa or make her some homemade coupons to let her have reasons to use it!

Fleece Robe

Fleece Robes are a slightly less expensive type of robe, but can be given with bath salts, or other relaxation items!

If you’re the husband, I hope this list gives you some great ideas to really pamper your wife…and if you’re the wife you have some new ideas for your wishlist!

What’s on your gift wishlist right now?  Share it in the comments to help other couples with some new ideas!

Nov 19

5 Steps to Bring Back the Romance When Kids Bring Chaos

By Dustin | Romance

How to Keep the Romance Alive When Kids Bring Chaos (4)Imagine your finger is on a switch.

This “magic” switch will ignite a hot SPARK in your marriage anytime you choose.

At will and in an instant, you could connect like you used to and enjoy deep intimacy.

All distractions of being a parent, an employee and a house manager go away and you experience that Soul Mate connection just like you did in the early days.

The bad news is I don’t have a magic switch for you…

…but the great news is that you CAN recreate this spark in a few simple steps.

5 Steps to Bring Back the Spark Even When Life Is Chaotic

1. Let your priorities be known!

Your kids, friends, co-workers, church associates – everyone who wants your time – needs to know that your spouse comes first (or right behind God if you’re a fellow person of faith).

Getting what you desire in your marriage starts with using your time in a way that’s in line with your desires.

2. Share Couple Time every day

Even if it’s 10 minutes from a remote location, you must devote time to enjoying each other as a couple every day. Not as a parent and not as an iPhone junkie…as a couple.

Once this becomes a habit in your life, the doors to open communication and deep intimacy will be open to you.

3. No excuses date nights

You simply have to date your spouse. This doesn’t mean you have to buck up for a babysitter and an expensive meal out – a date night in after the kids are in bed will work like a charm.

When couples make date night (or day) a reality, romance flows naturally.

4. Take care of yourself

As a busy parent, you constantly put yourself last and sacrifice for your family. While sacrifice is admirable, feeling frumpy and lacking self confidence kills your mood.

If you want to feel great and share a strong sex drive with your spouse, start by taking care of your body and mind.

5. Communicate the smart way

When couples get into a “romance rut” it’s because their communication has broken down. This is not only sucky in the moment, but it’s a dangerous slippery slope towards deep problems.

Good communication takes real skill – but it’s easy to learn and the payoff is, to put it simply, the marriage of your dreams.

Let me read your mind. You’re thinking:

“Super, I believe that this is WHAT I should do. The hard part is I don’t know HOW to actually do it!”

You’re thinking this for good reason. You’re super busy and frankly this sounds tough.

You know it’s worth it, but you’re not sure you can pull it off.

How to Actually Make It Happen

We’ve created a special workshop that leads you, step-by-step through a proven system to bring back the excitement of romance in your marriage.

This training is fun, completely actionable and totally focused on getting you the deep communication and intimacy you crave.

This program is your SWITCH:

Click here to get access to the Bring Back the Romance program

Whether you find this program helpful to you or not, please make the effort to keep the 5 key actions above a consistent part of your marriage.

No matter how busy life gets, keeping these actions in focus will keep your romance and live and well!

 

Oct 29

5 Ways to Heal After Your Spouse’s Pornography Addiction

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

5 Ways to Heal After Your Spouse’s Pornography AddictionFor some, pornography might not seem like a big deal—who doesn’t look at it?

But the truth is pornography is addictive and can lead to serious problems down the road.

Pornography and sexual addiction can have a devastating impact on your relationship.

Research has shown that 56% of divorce cases involved one partner having an obsessive interest in pornographic websites.

To learn of your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction can completely blindside you and leave you questioning your relationship and self-worth.

It is not uncommon for a spouse to question if they are “good enough” for their spouse, but the truth is, it has nothing to do with them.

Like any other addiction, people use pornography (or drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, etc.) as a way to self-medicate.

The first thing to remember is that your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is not your fault. Their turning away is not a reflection of a lack on your part, but on theirs.

As the spouse of an addict, many emotions may have risen from denial, hurt, anger, and guilt and has left you wondering what to do now.

There are no easy answers.

Take time to allow yourself to heal from the discovery. You cannot rush the healing process and will have to let your emotions out.

Many times a spouse won’t know where to turn, or who to talk to, and will struggle through the situation alone.

Instead seek outside help, either in a trusted friend or therapist, to help you navigate the twists and turns while you deal with the revelation.

As you move down this path, here are 5 things to do to help you move forward.

1. Map your recovery

When dealing with trauma (and yes, discovering your spouse’s pornography and sexual addiction is traumatic), you need to take time to acknowledge your feelings.

During this time, you may experience self-blame, outbursts of anger, depression, feelings of detachment, and many other emotions. Understand that you need to take time for yourself and create your own recovery plan.

2. Don’t isolate

During this time you may find your wanting to retreat into yourself especially when you feel your world is falling apart. Instead, find a trusted friend, spiritual leader, therapist, or support group you can talk openly with.

This experience is too difficult and traumatic to be dealing with all alone.

3. Seek understanding

You’ve probably heard the saying “knowledge is power,” and taking time to learn and understand compulsive and addictive behavior can help you on your path to recovery.

Pornography addiction, like any other addiction, is a disease and is a method of self medicating.

As you learn more about the addiction and the impact on the brain, you will have a better understanding of how their pornography addiction is not from a lack (those lies you tell yourself like, your not sexy enough, not smart enough, and so forth) on your part.

4. Practice self-care

As you move through the recovery process, self-care is vital to your healing.

This can be particularly difficult for women because, by nature, they tend to put their needs second to everyone else. When starting out, choose something to focus on from these 3 categories: personal, physical, and spiritual.

These could include keeping a journal (Julia Cameron has an excellent book, The Artist’s Way, that talks about morning pages), signing up for a zumba class, and meditating daily.

As you begin practicing the art of self-care, it may seem selfish but is essential for your own healing. Eleanor Brownn, inspirational life coach, once said, “Self-care is NOT selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

Taking time to recharge and take care of yourself will, in the long run, help you take care of those in your life.

5. Sense of community

Many great teachers have talked about the importance of “losing yourself in the service of others.”

When you are feeling overwhelmed, with emotions and life in general, take time to go out and perform an act of kindness for someone else. You can also volunteer at your local shelter, library, or community center.

What is wonderful about taking time to help someone else is that you forget about your problems for a while.

During this time it is so important to remember that you also need to take time to heal.

Through journalling new insights, feelings may arise and that can help you in your recovery.

Use this time to set boundaries, define your limits and write down what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed. A therapist, spiritual teacher, or trusted friend can help you with this and help you to see things differently.

Remember to take the time to be kind and compassionate with yourself. The journey towards healing does not happen overnight and takes a lot of deep soul work.

It is also strongly recommended that you don’t make any major life decisions for a while about your relationship, unless abuse is involved.

About the Author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with Lifestar Therapy. She is committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy relationships.

Oct 27

15 Ways To Surprise Your Spouse And Keep the Spark Alive

By Dustin | Romance

15 Ways To Surprise Your Spouse And Keep the Spark Alive (1)At some point, almost every relationship will become stale and routine – but that doesn’t need to be the case for you.

Even the most fun and loving relationship can get dulled out by the daily stresses of life.  The reality is that our hectic lives require a routine to function.

But we have to protect against letting our interactions with our spouse become just another part of the routine.

A fantastic way inject some fresh life into your romantic life is to find ways to surprise your spouse and put a smile on their face.  A little happy moment can go a long way to restoring the spark in any relationship.

Pick one of these ideas and go put a smile on your husband or wife’s face today!

15 Sweet Surprises for Your Spouse

1. Dress Up
When couples get comfortable with each other, they often neglect their appearances. At least once in a while, dress up for your partner.

Putting effort into looking good for your lover can bring back that spark that brought the two of you together in the first place.

2. Love Notes/Letter
Sticking a love note into your partner’s pocket or purse is a great way to surprise him or her in a loving way that will help keep the spark alive in your relationship.

If you REALLY want to make a lasting impact, write your spouse a love letter.  Pick up one of our popular love letter templates to make it easy and make sure you hit the mark.

3. Be Spontaneous
As the years pass by in a relationship, couples often settle into a dull routine that can zap the spark right out of their love life. This is why surprising your spouse with a special, out of the ordinary activity you can do together can be a great way to put the spark back in your relationship.

4. Massages
Almost everyone loves a massage, and it’s even better when it’s a surprise massage.  Oh, and a romantic at-home massage has some major benefits for your marriage – check this post out for some awesome massage tips!

5. Try New Things
Why not take a cooking class with your spouse? Or take up some other new activity that neither of you know anything about.

Trying something new together can liven up your relationship.

6. Buy A Gift
A great way to surprise your spouse is by buying him or her a special gift. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gift, and it doesn’t have to be given on a special occasion.

7. Chores
If your husband usually mows the lawn, why not mow it for him one weekend? Taking over a chore usually done by your spouse can be a happy surprise.

8. Get Away
If you truly want to surprise your spouse and bring back the spark in your relationship, plan a relaxing weekend together away from the stresses of everyday life.

9. Relax
After a busy day handling life’s responsibilities, tell your spouse you want to spend some time relaxing alone with him or her. Even if it’s only a half hour a day, this time spent together can be a daily relationship pick-me-up.

10. Surprise Meal!
If your partner always handles the cooking, why not surprise him or her one night with a meal? If you don’t have very good culinary skills, you can always surprise your partner with take out.

This simple gesture can revive any relationship.

11. Good Morning
Each day, surprise your spouse with a good morning kiss. Not only will this keep intimacy alive, but it will start your spouse’s day in a happy way.

12. I Love You
Although you love your partner, you may forget to mention the words “I love you”. Every now and again, whisper these words in your spouse’s ear if you want to keep the spark alive.

13. Be Adventurous
If you are usually a very predictable type of person, shake up your romantic life by doing something with your partner that is out of your comfort zone.

Being adventurous can spice up any relationship.

14. Breakfast In Bed
Bringing your partner breakfast in bed is a perfect surprise that will help keep the spark alive in your relationship.

15. Picnic
If you really want to surprise your spouse in a fun and romantic way, surprise him or her with a relaxing picnic.

Unfortunately, relationships tend to become boring and predictable over time, and it requires effort by both people to keep things fresh and fun. The good news is that even simple, quick gestures can be incredibly powerful romance boosters.

Give one of these ideas a try today and enjoy the smile on your spouse’s face – and the romantic spark that’s renewed in your marriage!

Oct 23

Put Your Cell Phone Away During Date Night!

By Dustin | Communication

Put Your Cell Phone AWAY During DATE NIGHT (1)Cell phones have changed the way we communicate with our friends and family.

While this technology can help us stay connected more than ever, it can also hurt our relationships if we spend too much time looking at a screen instead of our partner.

To keep your relationships going strong, keep these cell phone etiquette tips in mind when you’re conversing with your partner.

Put Your Cell Phone Away During Date Night

Whenever you’re out on a date with your partner you should put your cell phone away.

Not just sitting off to the side of the table, but completely away in your purse or pocket. A study completed by psychologists at the University of Essex showed that even having a cell phone in view but not in use disrupts important conversations and lowers relationship quality.

Researchers put a cell phone or a notebook on a table and asked study participants to discuss certain topics with each other.

The group that had the cell phone said they felt that trust and empathy with their partner was lower during their conversation.

While the phone never vibrated or rang, and most participants had to be prompted to remember that it was there, its presence still affected the conversation quality.

Having your cell phone out during a date basically signals that the conversation you’re having with your partner isn’t important enough for your full concentration.

Don’t Have Important Conversations Through Text

Even though it may seem easier to have important conversations through a text message, you shouldn’t use that screen as a shield.

It’s impossible to tell mood or tone through a text, which opens up the possibility of a misunderstanding.

And don’t carry on a text conversation with another person while you and your partner are talking.

Send a Romantic Message

Of course, cell phones aren’t something that will completely ruin every relationship. They’re still a great communication tool.

You can use your cell phone to be alluring while you’re away from your partner. Send him an exciting text or leave her a romantic voicemail.

Or, if someone is out of town, use FaceTime or Skype to still see each other.

There are many new smartphones that have video chat capabilities. But you don’t have to spend fortunes on a new smartphone, you can get a great deal on a phone with the same capabilities such as the Galaxy S5 from carriers like T-Mobile.

Join an Online Space for Partners

If you’re friends with your partner on your social media websites, it doesn’t really give you the chance to create stronger bonds online.

You don’t want to share your intimate details on the same account that your mom sees, and you don’t want to be the couple who annoys everyone with their constant declarations of love.

Instead, consider joining an online space that’s just for couples. Websites such as TwoCup and Between let you share private photos and messages between just the two of you.

Get the Cell Phone Out of the Bedroom

While 75 percent of people admit to falling asleep with their cell phones within reach, experts say that not only can this habit affect intimacy, it can affect your sleep as well.

Even though it’s very convenient to use your cell phone as an alarm, it also makes it very easy to check your email or social media accounts one last time before you go to sleep.

The blue light given off by the LED screens inhibits melatonin, which is the hormone that helps us sleep.

Cell phones are also a distraction that prevent us from falling asleep quickly and stop us from reaching a deep sleep.

If you have to leave your phone in the bedroom, plug it in far away from the bed so you’re not tempted to reach for it during the night. And for the same reasons you shouldn’t take your phone with you on a date, you shouldn’t take it to bed with you, either.

There’s a time and a place for using your cell phone. While it’s a great way to stay in touch with your partner, once you’re face to face it’s time to put your phone away and enjoy each other’s company.

Oct 13

Do This to Instantly Be Happier (it may shock your spouse)

By Dustin | Time Management

Do This to Instantly Be HappierIf you ever find yourself feeling stressed out or even overwhelmed by all the things you have to do, you’re going to love this post.

I’m going to share with you one of the BEST and EASIEST things you can do to bring more happiness to your home.

Check it out and then share it with your spouse today so you can take action together.

It could change your life.

How’s That Balanced Approach Workin’ for Ya?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the idea of “work-life” balance or other similar terms.

You’ve probably heard some “expert” on Oprah or Dr. Phil telling a young husband or wife that they need better balance.  You’ve gotta get things in check and be balanced in all areas of your life, right?

WRONG.

In the lives we live today, no two days are typically the same and no two weeks are ever the same.

Between the demands of trying to share quality time with our spouse, raise our kids, work, attend any number of evening activities, exercise, take care of the house, contribute to our community, hang out with our friends, enjoy hobbies…well you get the idea.

If you tried to maintain balance between all of your responsibilities, you’d not only go crazy, you’d fail.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably tried it and then beat yourself up for not being able to pull it off.

Forget Balance – Do This Instead

The good news is that balancing your time is not important.  In fact, it’s probably harmfully unrealistic and stressful.

Happy families do not have balance. They have BOUNDARIES. (click here to tweet this out)

Let me explain.

At this stage in your life, you should forget about trying to keep your time balanced – instead, set healthy boundaries and stick to them as much as possible.

By boundaries, I mean you set both space but especially time boundaries.  You have work time, spouse time, kid time and so forth.  These are planned ahead and agreed upon with your family.

This may seem subtle, but it’s incredibly freeing and really powerful.

  • Spouse time is not work time, so you can put your phone away and actually have a focused conversation with your husband or wife.
  • Kid time is not chore time (at least not always), so you can play with dolls now, fully present, and take care of paying bills later.
  • Time spent on side businesses, self-education or hobbies you love is specified and held within healthy boundaries as well, so you can fully enjoy it within some self-imposed constraints that your spouse has agreed to.

Multi-tasking doesn’t work, and it cheats both you and your loved ones.  Don’t try it.

You may think you don’t have time to use boundaries in your busy life.

The truth is you don’t have time NOT to, and you’re wasting so many wonderful opportunities right now if you’re trying to be balanced.

Make A Change Today

If your marriage is anything like ours, this idea of setting healthy, specific boundaries on your time may be pretty foreign.

When you bring it up to your spouse, they may be a little shocked by what you’re suggesting.

If your schedule has been out of control for a while (like ours was), the suggestion of communicating about how you spend your time as a family and committing to some changes proactively may seem to come from left field.

But it’s so worth it – you can instantly reduce stress and guilt in your relationship and bring more happiness to your home.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to get started:

  1. Ask your spouse to read this post with you and set a time after the kids are in bed to talk about your family schedule.
  2. Share where you’ve felt frustrated both by where you’d like to spend more guilt-free time and where you’d like to cut back.  Your spouse should do the same so you can have an open conversation.
  3. Together, agree on just ONE boundary you want to put in place this week.  You can always add more later, but you want to start off simply and see how well this works for you.

What does a boundary look like?  It can take any form really, but here are some sample ideas for you to consider:

  • Phone/computer blackout zone (you can’t use them) between 6-8 p.m. to preserve family time
  • Side business/hobby time only before 7 a.m. before the rest of the house is awake
  • Minimum of 15 minutes of Couple Time at 8:30 p.m. when the kids are in bed
  • Always go to bed together at 11 p.m.

The right boundaries will be specific to your household, but you can see how setting a few at different times of the day can provide clarity and consistency that your whole family will appreciate.

It doesn’t take a big change to make a BIG difference in your marriage and family life!

Want an Action Plan to Add More Quality Time to Your Life?

If you’re interested in enjoying more quality time with your spouse and kids, be sure to check out our popular Get More Quality Time workshop.

Here’s a rundown of the benefits you’ll get from this program:

Quality Time Workshop

Go check it out now and reclaim control of your schedule today!

How to Enjoy More Quality Time

Sep 15

Finding Time for Sex

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

Today’s post is adapted from our book 15 Minute Marriage Makeover – Refresh Your Relationship, Add Sizzle to Your Sex Life & Be Happier in Just Minutes a Day.  Please check out the end of the post for more information.

Finding the Time for SexHave you encountered times in your marriage where one or both of you wanted to have sex, but there just wasn’t time or energy for it?

I know that we used to face this realization way too often in our own marriage.

We would exchange some “indications” earlier in the day that we were looking forward to an intimate evening.

However, after a longer-than-usual time spent getting the kids to go to sleep, we would remember the need to straighten up the house for guests the next day or a work deadline would surface that needed immediate attention.

Before we knew it, one of us was busy working on a project while the other had fallen asleep on the couch.

At this point, it’s often easier to just say, “Let’s try again tomorrow.  Good night.”

Today’s Lesson

So, how can we avoid this recurring problem where we feel there’s no time to have a quality sexual relationship with our spouse?

The simple answer is that we must make sex a priority in our marriage.  Obviously, this is easier said than done, but there are practical ways to make it happen.

It all starts with our mindset.

I want you to imagine for a moment that you know that your spouse is not going to be alive tomorrow night.

Tonight is literally your last night together on Earth, and you know that both God and your spouse desperately want your last night together to be spent making love and sharing a deep intimacy with one another.

Now, do you have time for sex tonight?

Obviously, this is an extreme example, but the point is that we cannot treat sex with our spouse like another chore on our to-do list for the day.

We cannot say that we’ll have sex as soon as the “important” stuff like the dishes, laundry and baseball game are out of the way.

We’ll dig deeper into why sex is important to each of you in tomorrow’s lesson [note: the lessons in the book build on each other each day], but suffice it to say that a healthy sex life is the center of a healthy, thriving marriage.

And when you treat sex like just another chore, it becomes just another chore.

And that is not okay.

Today’s Couple Time Task

During your 15 minutes of Couple Time today, I’d like you to talk openly and honestly about where each of you sees sex fitting into your lives in terms of priorities.  Discuss both where it sits in your own mind and where you observe it to sit in your partner’s mind.

Please be forewarned that there’s a very good chance that your personal perception will not be your spouse’s reality when it comes to this sensitive topic.

Do not get into a fight about who is right or wrong, but instead treat your partner’s thoughts as the truth.

After all, when it comes to your sex life, it’s truly their perception that matters.

Spend a few minutes talking about how you can make improved intimacy (including sex) a higher priority in your daily lives.

  • When are some times when you could be intimate instead of doing other mundane things around the house?
  • Where are some areas that you could improve in your overall intimacy, including those areas that don’t directly involve sex?
  • What has been holding you back, and what can your spouse do to ease your burdens and help you desire more intimacy?

Finally, I’d encourage you to spend this evening pretending like it is your last evening together on Earth. 🙂

Today’s Tips

  • Do not fall into the trap of using your Couple Time today to argue or point blame at each other.  This is your time to be constructive and work together to improve the intimacy in your marriage.
  • While sex is the culmination of physical intimacy, keep in mind that intimacy should be alive and well in many areas of your marriage.
  • Some examples of intimacy outside of sex include recreational time spent together, physical activity together, spiritual intimacy, emotional connection and even financial intimacy.
  • For in-depth and very “HOW TO” help improving both the depth of your intimacy and the frequency and quality of sex in your marriage, be sure to check out Intimacy Reignited.

This post is adapted from one of 28 powerful daily exercises that will take your marriage from good to extraordinary in just 15 minutes per day.  To pick up your own copy (in Kindle, paperback or audiobook format) and take your marriage to the next level, just click here.

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