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Sep 09

5 Ways to Keep Work Stress from Straining Your Marriage

By Dustin | Help

couple-hugging guest postWe’ve all been there. You have a stressful day at work and you come home feeling down, angry, worried or on edge. The last thing you want to do is end up taking it out on your spouse.

While it’s completely natural to feel this way, it’s important that you take the time to find a way to manage your stress, so that it doesn’t spill over into your family life.

Stress in Today’s Workplace

If work leaves you feeling stressed out, you’re definitely not alone. One report found that 80% of workers feel stress on the job, with 25% having felt like screaming or shouting because of it. With employees working longer and harder than ever before, it’s no wonder work-related stress has become an issue.

Some of the most common sources of work stress include:

• Heavy workloads
• Limited opportunities for career growth or advancement
• Low salaries
• Management style
• Interpersonal relationships
• Conflicting demands or unclear expectations

Feeling stressed out due to work-related pressures is not uncommon. However, it’s important that you find ways to cope with stress so that it doesn’t end up being a burden on your marriage.

Don’t Let Stress Put a Strain on Your Relationship

Even when stress stems from outside your marriage, it can still have a negative impact on your relationship. If you’re feeling stressed out, you’re more likely to argue, withdraw from each other and end up feeling frustrated, disconnected, sad or angry. Avoid letting stress impact your marriage with these 5 helpful tips.

1. Take a Moment to Unwind

When you’ve had a stressful day at work, it’s important to take a bit of time to decompress so you don’t just walk in the door complaining. Take some time to yourself to calm down and unwind. Taking that time to relax can help you to feel better equipped to handle a stressful situation.

If you can, take a moment to go outside and get some fresh air. Go for a quick stroll, breathe in the fresh air and give yourself some time to unwind. Try making this part of your routine. Having a consistent ritual gives you something to focus on and allows you to take control over part of your day.

2. Try Talking to Friends and Family

It’s great having a partner you can turn to when you are dealing with a stressful situation. While it’s important to be open and communicate with your partner, you don’t want to overwhelm them with your stresses either. Social engagement is one of the best ways to rein in stress, so it’s good to have a network of friends who you can reach out to.

Sometimes it just helps having a friend to talk to who can provide a fresh perspective on things. Having other people to talk to will help you to avoid dumping all of your problems onto your spouse, while allowing you to release some of the built-up tension by simply talking about it.

3. Create a Plan

Once you’ve had a chance to think about what is causing you stress, it’s time to take action. Feeling like you have a lack of control is one of the main causes of stress, so it helps to take back that power. Write down as many solutions as you can and pick the best one. Feeling like you have control over the situation can help to lower your stress levels and address the problem.

There are lots of other great stress management techniques out there, so make sure you take the time to deal with your stresses. Whether you set time aside to meditate, exercise or simply schedule in quality social time, make sure you address the issue before it takes its toll on your relationship.

4. Focus on the Positives

If you find yourself constantly talking about the stresses of work life, try and take a moment to talk about something more positive. Start by expressing your gratitude and letting your partner know how much you appreciate them. You can also take some time to write down all the things you are grateful for in life.

It may sound a bit cheesy, but several studies have found that expressing gratitude can help to guide behavior and even change how you feel. Showing appreciation towards your partner can have a huge effect on relationship satisfaction, while helping to reduce stress.

5. Set Aside Regular Time for Each Other

It’s common for people who are dealing with stress to distance themselves from their partner. Make sure you remember to prioritize your relationship by setting aside regular time for each other. As little as 15 minutes a day can have a real positive impact on your relationship.

Schedule in time where you don’t think about work, avoid distractions and just focus on each other. That means turning off the TV, putting your phone away and just spending quality time with your partner. This will help to open up the lines of communication and strengthen the bond with your partner.

How You Can Help Each Other

Stress affects most people, so don’t forget to check in with your partner and help them if you think they may be dealing with work-related stress.

Recognize the signs: People have different ways of dealing with stress, so it may not always be easy to recognize the signs. If you notice your partner has been snappy, moody, cranky or withdrawn, it could be due to stress.

Approach your partner: Try and remain kind and compassionate and take the time to listen to what they have to say. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t press them. Remember, we all have different ways of dealing with our issues, just let them know that you’re there if they need you.

Help ease the burden: If they’re feeling like they have too much on their plate, try and help to temporarily ease the burden. Help out where you can and give them some time to deal with their stressful situation. Of course, you don’t want to forget about your own needs, so this should only be a temporary measure.

Stress has become a part of our every day lives, with people working longer and harder than ever before. While it’s natural to feel stressed out, it’s also important that you address the issue. Take some time to deal with your stresses and try not to let it affect your relationship.

Author Bio:
Saskia is the creator of career and lifestyle blog, My Kind of Monday, which aims to help people find happiness in work and in life. For more ideas on how to deal with stress, read her post on How to Relieve Stress with Exercise.

Sep 02

Hey, How Did He Know?

By Dustin | Romance

How Did He Know appIf you had all the time in the world and no schedule to live by, what would you do with it?

Would you travel the globe?

Work in your garden?

Read or write?

What about spending time with your spouse?

We all know that if schedules were as simple as simply doing what we wanted, life would look very different.

But, as it is, we all have responsibilities, jobs, social lives, children, errands…the everyday demands of a typical busy household.

So when I come across a resource or tool that helps me to simplify my life and get a few moments of time back, I grab on with two hands.

One resource that I’ve recently discovered and have been enjoying is the new app called “How Did He Know?”

The app—which aims to leave your wife asking ‘hey—how did he know…?’—is built specifically for men like me in mind. Men who, whether they want to be or not, are pulled in many different directions every day, but who still want to prioritize their marriages and relationships.

The app is really one of the first of its kind on the market.

Every day, I get a simple relationship tip delivered right to my phone. The tips are based off of information I provide about my wife and our marriage—like important days to celebrate, her likes and dislikes, and our stage in life.

But what I like most about the tips is that they touch on five hugely important categories, all of which we have covered here on Engaged Marriage, and each tip is quick to read and easy to act on.

So what kind of information am I receiving?

Every day is a different tip, and each tip covers one of the following areas:

• Intimacy
• Nutrition
• Physical Changes
• Emotions
• Lifestyle

From mood swings to sex drive to the best foods to serve after a long week, How Did He Know? helps me get right down to the actions, words, foods and things that my wife will love—and there’s not much to dislike about that!

Oh, and the really cool part is that the app can be “calibrated” to your wife’s fertility cycle…and the associated hormone changes that happen throughout the month.  As a couple that practices Natural Family Planning, we are REALLY excited by this technology!

Get On Board – Engaged Marriage Is!

The How Did He Know? app is available for download in the iTunes app store (just search for it). Right now, it’s just available for iPhone and iPad users, but it will be available for Android this fall.

Until then, check out the app’s website for updates or follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

I’m also excited to share that Engaged Marriage has become the first official content partner for the app.

That means you’ll soon see tips written by our team appearing in the app as well as exclusive blog content on the How Did He Know? site.

Enjoy!

Sep 02

7 Reasons Every Smart Couple Needs a Side Income (and How to Get One)

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

7 Reasons Every Smart Couple Needs a Side Income

How would your family benefit from an extra $250, $500 or even $1,000 every month?

In this post, I want to share why it’s so important that your family develop a side income and show you how to make it happen – complete with real-life examples of the many ways we’ve added to the bottom line in the Riechmann household.

BONUS: Be sure to click here to grab our FREE guide "How to Find a Profitable Side Income Idea in 15 Minutes"

7 Reasons You Need a Side Income

Let’s start by outlining a few of the many benefits of developing a “side hustle” and bringing in an income outside of your 9-to-5 paycheck.

1. More Money 🙂

Duh, right?  Let’s start with the obvious – just like a big raise at work, side income increases your bottom line.

If you’re doing the right thing and budgeting every dollar of your income, you probably know exactly where you’d plug in some extra cash.  Even if you’re not that organized, I bet you could find some awesome things to do with 500 bucks.

You could pay off debt, give more to charity, save for emergencies, go on nice vacations…all the wonderful things that more income allows your family to enjoy.

Good stuff for sure, but this is just the start!

2. Greater Freedom

If you put it in the right context, more money is ultimately about enjoying more freedom.  When you’re not stuck living paycheck-to-paycheck but instead start building more margin in your budget, it gives you options to do more of things you want to do as a family.

In practical terms, killing off debt payments and boosting your income to reclaim your monthly cash flow gives you the freedom to make choices about how to spend your money and your time.

It could also represent the opportunity to leave a job you don’t enjoy to do something you love.

3. Sense of Security

This is where a side income really starts to separate itself from a regular paycheck.  The raw truth is that dependence on a single income source is really dangerous – you’re only an economic downturn or angry boss away from losing it all.

When you develop alternative forms of income, you can not only build a bigger emergency fund and nest egg, but you can enjoy the security of knowing that one change won’t wipe out your inflow of cash.

And as your side pursuits mature, you’ll likely find that you can automate (or hire out) much of the work and create passive income that supports you without direct investments of time – that’s true financial freedom!

4. Opportunity for Something BIG

What starts off as a modest attempt to make an extra $200 could grow into something much, much larger.

Many of the world’s most successful companies started off as side ventures or small solo pursuits…have you ever watched Shark Tank?

The fact is that you never know where the market may take you – a simple idea can strike it big and grow into a massive success.  That’s exciting!

5. Help Others

One of the awesome benefits of doing good work is that you get to help others in the process.  The best way to make money is to provide genuine value by helping people.

While you may feel this in your day job, there’s a good chance that your side hustle will connect you more closely with the value cycle and let you experience the real joy of helping others.

6. Lifelong Learning

One of the surprising benefits I’ve found in developing side businesses is that it’s incredibly intellectually stimulating.  It’s much too easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day demands of a regular job and never stretch your thinking.

When you do work on the side, you’ll gain entirely new skills, feel excited to learn something new, and then get to implement it right away to grow your income.

7. Fund Your Dreams

When you think about your dream marriage, there’s a good chance that money will play a role in the lifestyle you desire.  I’m not necessarily talking about sipping drinks by the beach, but enjoying the freedom to live life on your terms.

In our case, it was our side income that was instrumental in allowing Bethany to stay home with our kids two years ago.  Only through side gigs were we able to pay off $54,500 in debt and position our family for the future we desired.

BONUS: Family Bonding

Are you thinking that developing a side income is going to steal too much quality time away from your family?  I totally get that, and it’s a legitimate concern.

It’s all about how you set your business up both in terms of how many hours it requires of you and how much of that time is solo.

When you see the list of former and current businesses we’ve done below – you’re going to think I’m insane and that I must have an extra 8 hours in the day…but the reality is that each side gig is set up strategically to minimize the time required (and we’ve dropped most dollars-for-hours tasks over the years).

One surprising benefit that we’ve found with our side pursuits is that we can actually enjoy some very high-quality time together.  As I note below, my son is my “partner” on one business, and Bethany is absolutely involved in Engaged Marriage and Fit Marriage.

You should view your side business as a real opportunity to connect around an interesting project that benefits the whole family!

How to Make It Happen (and What We Do)

If generating a side income was easy, you’d already be doing it, right?  Maybe.

It can certainly be intimidating but it’s probably not nearly as hard as you think.  Here are the three main suggestions I have for you as you consider how to generate side income:

  1. Start With What You Know
  2. Go Low-Cost & Low-Time
  3. Get Your Spouse & Family Involved

We’ve built different streams of side income throughout our 14 years of marriage.  When we started out, we traded more time directly for dollars, but we’ve learned along the way and also taken advantage of the power of the Internet.

Here are several examples of side income streams that we’ve enjoyed in our household along with a short description of each.

BONUS: Be sure to click here to grab our FREE guide "How to Find a Profitable Side Income Idea in 15 Minutes"

  • Golf Club reselling

This was one of the first side businesses I did, and it was quite profitable with more than $1,000 a month in income.  The model works for lots of different items, but I got into golf clubs when I was trying to find the right set for myself (this is often how I find business opportunities).

In a nutshell, I bought clubs locally (through Craigslist mostly), cleaned them up, and sold them nationally through Ebay.  It’s a classic case of buying low in a local market and selling higher to a broader audience who will pay true market value.

I only quit doing this because it was too time consuming for me to travel around the region buying the clubs, and we discovered more passive income streams.

  • Tutoring

Both Bethany and I have tutored kids in various subjects, and it’s a nice way to make extra money.  I still tutor a neighborhood high school student in math occasionally as a favor – I enjoy it and we use the money to pay our kids for household chores.

  • Teaching (online and offline)

There are SO many opportunities to teach what you know to others.  One the best ways to do this is to create a simple course on a platform like Udemy where you can reach the world.  You can create the course once and sell it many, many times.  I have one course on Udemy currently.

I’ve also taught engineering courses at a local University, which I found quite fulfilling.  This is more dollars-for-hours in scale, but you may find it’s a great fit for you to teach locally or for a college online.

  • Writing

If you enjoy writing, there are pretty much limitless opportunities to get paid to write.  One of the best places to find work is through blogs you enjoy – we employ four awesome writers here at Engaged Marriage.

I’ve written for other blogs for pay in the past, and I’ve also written articles for magazines.  They pay better, but of course this requires more work and specialized skills.

If you want to take it to another level and develop more passive income, you can absolutely self-publish a book!  The Kindle platform in particular makes it easy, and you can also have Amazon convert your ebook to paperback.  I’ve written three books personally, and they all generate a nice passive income through Amazon (and other platforms).

  • Engaged Marriage

This very site is a robust business with income from books, workshops, advertisements, affiliate relationships and coaching.  It is FAR from passive with nearly 400 posts written mostly by me and a continuous effort is required, but it’s a true labor of love getting to help others live a married life they love.

  • Fit Marriage

I’m also a partner with another online site/business called Fit Marriage where we help busy couples make fitness a key part of their marriage.  We have numerous income streams, but our primary revenue comes from a fitness program we developed for couples called Thrive90 Fitness – it’s pretty much completely passive at this point.

  • MLM (Team Beachbody)

One of the easiest ways for people to get started building a side income is through a multi-level-marketing (MLM) company.  There are many successful companies out there like Tastefully Simple, Mary Kay, Thirty One, etc. – just think of “home parties” you’ve been invited to and you’re likely thinking of an MLM.

Through my work at Fit Marriage and my past experience with the P90X fitness program, I became a coach with Team Beachbody.  This is the MLM company behind many of the most popular at-home workouts out there.  I treat this pretty passively, but it generates a nice income and discounts on their products.

  • Coaching & Consulting

You can get paid really well for sharing your expertise and guidance with others.  I don’t even advertise these services, but I’m able to generate a very nice side income through coaching and consulting.

You can coach/consult on just about any topic that you have specialized knowledge in.  In my case, I help married couples achieve their dream marriage through strategic planning (set big goals and follow a step-by-step plan to achieve them), and I consult with folks on getting control of their schedule and being more productive.

I also do consulting to help others get started or ramp up their online businesses.  It’s so fun to apply what I’ve learned in six years of online business to help others generate real income to help their families.

Like I said, I’ve never even advertised these services (people contact me), so there’s clearly a real demand out there for help.  If you’d like to chat about working with me in either of my specialty areas, shoot me a message. 😉

  • Shin Splints Treatment Kit

This is my latest venture, and I love it because it’s really specific, pretty passive and I get to teach my 10-year-old son about business.  When I got into running about 18 months ago, I suffered BAD from shin splints.  Long story short, I found a quick treatment regime that really helped me and some of my friends (I actually just ran my first marathon two weeks ago).

In the process, I found an opportunity (you develop this mindset once you start a side business) – all the materials I needed to do the treatments were only available from random sources and at pretty high prices.  I simply created a short guide on how to do the treatments, then found wholesale sources for the materials needed (foam roller, ice packs, resistance band).

I shot a 5-minute shin splints instructional video to put on YouTube and put the Shin Splints Treatment Kit up on Amazon.  With NO marketing, we make several sales every week with profits per kit of $15-$22 depending on shipping costs.

My son Braden packs the boxes for me and helps me with shipping.  I pay him $1 from every sale, and he loves it.  This is an awesome way to teach about the entrepreneurship and have fun together while helping others!!

OK that’s quite a list – so we clearly LOVE side businesses!

Keep in mind that we’ve had small children in our home that last 10 years, and I still work a demanding full-time engineering job (that I love).

You can totally do this. You’ll notice that a lot of our endeavors have been centered online, which we love for the flexibility it provides, but I know many other couples who thrive with “real world” businesses helping those in their community.

It all starts with one simple idea and a smart action plan…and I know just the guy to lead you on that front!

Want The Exact Steps We Use to Make Extra Money On the Side?

I can only share so much in a blog post before it becomes ridiculously long, but if you’re interested in learning more about creating a side income for your own family – we’ve got you covered.

We created an amazing program with my friend and New York Times best-selling author Dan Miller called “How to Make an Extra $500 per Month on the Side to Bless Your Family” and you can get instant access to it right now.

In this program, you will learn…

  • The difference between a side business and a side job (this is critical if you want to leverage your time)
  • How to start a simple side business that will bless your family with extra freedom, fun & opportunity (plus money of course)
  • The best types of side businesses for busy married folks… including many real-life examples from Dan (married 45 years), Dustin (married 14 years) & those we’ve worked with personally
  • How to find the right side business for you… even if you have no ideas right now
  • How to get started earning a side income this week… there’s no reason to wait!

Even if you have no business experience at all.

Click here to get instant access to the side income workshop at amazing value!

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 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.

Jul 01

7 “Rules” to Write the Perfect Romantic Love Letter (in about 15 minutes)

By Dustin | Romance

7 Rules for the Perfect Romantic Love LetterWhen it comes to adding some sizzle to your marriage, nothing beats a good old-fashioned love letter.

Sure, you can buy flowers, candy or go out for a nice dinner.

Those kinds of borderline-cliche gifts tend to be less personalized and their effects fade over time.

A love letter, however, is the gift that comes straight from your heart, and is one they will keep and cherish forever.

Why?

Nothing says “I love you forever” to your spouse like taking time out of your day, putting pen to paper, and crafting the words of your very soul.

In terms of romantic rewards, the author of a romantic letter will reap dividends – if you know what I mean. 😉

You may just have to hire a sitter for the evening!

NOTE: To make it super-easy for you to craft an awesome letter, we created a FREE Perfect Love Letter Checklist.
Be sure to click here to grab it now!

When you present your spouse with a romantic love letter, you might be shocked at the overwhelming response and outpouring of love that you receive.

Don’t be surprised if you see a bright smile that could light up the room. You might even end up on the receiving end of the most passionate kiss you’ve had since your wedding day.

By the way, ladies…if you don’t think a love letter will work on your husband as well as it works on wives, then you’ve really got to try it.

Everyone wants to feel appreciated, cherished, and loved. See for yourself!

But I’m Not a Poet or Wordsmith!

You might be excited about the idea of writing a romantic love letter to your spouse, but don’t feel like you’re creative enough to write one.

Don’t get overly concerned about writing a perfect letter just yet. Your only concern right now is to get up the courage to write one, period.

I’ll show you how to craft a perfect letter.

The only thing you need to possess is the willingness to open up and show the love for your spouse that I know you have (or you wouldn’t be reading this). If you have that, and even the most basic writing skills, you can write a romantic love letter that will melt your spouse’s heart.

You may be thinking, “Okay. I’m in love, and I can write, but how can I write a good romantic love letter?

Well, here’s the good news. It’s possible for you to write an awesome romantic love letter by following 7 simple rules.

Rules? Rules?!! Calm down. There’s no need to panic..these rules are easy to master.

Rule #1: Romantic love letters have to be personal

What does this mean? It has to be written by you…not by your friend, your secretary, your boss or someone you hired from the internet.

Your spouse longs to hear the secret words that are etched in your heart. The words that are written in the romantic letter do not have to be perfect, they just have to belong to you.

This is 1,000 times more important than earning style points.

Rule #2: Romantic love letters have to be positive and affirming

During the daily hustle of life, you may not remember to whisper sweet nothings in your lover’s ear or even tell your lover how much you care. This slight neglect may leave your spouse feeling insecure about their relationship.

A romantic letter serves as an affirmation to your spouse that the romantic flames have not been doused. It’s important to only mention positive attributes in the letter, and to show them that you have been noticing and cherishing them this whole time.

Rule #3: Romantic love letters must be specific and meaningful

No cliches! You have to put some real effort into crafting this letter. Like everything else in marriage, what you put into the letter determines what you get out of it.

So, make a list of specific things that you enjoy or appreciate about your lover. Maybe you enjoy your significant other’s hair. Or you might appreciate your lover’s kind and caring nature.

Whatever specifics you include in the letter, make sure the romantic letter gives specific details.

The more you personalize it for your spouse, the more special they will feel. Make it count!

NOTE: To make it super-easy for you to craft an awesome letter, we created a FREE Perfect Love Letter Checklist.
Be sure to click here to grab it now!

Rule #4: Romantic Letters should be neat and attractive

Not only should a heartfelt romantic letter be handwritten, it should be written on stationery or nice writing paper…not printed, and not even on a card (sorry, Hallmark).

Think about the history of love letters…you’re tapping into centuries of tradition. Rituals can be very powerful, so do it the old-fashioned way and it will look like less of an afterthought.

You could also write the romantic letter on attractive paper and include a drawing. Another nice touch would be to spray a nice smelling scent on the romantic letter.

Rule #5: Actually mail your romantic letter to make it extra-special

Mailing the letter to your significant other adds to the element of surprise and fun. It shows your spouse that you put a lot of thought into writing the romantic letter.

Trust me – they want you to be thinking about them, and they want proof!

You spouse will be in for a real treat by getting a surprise like this from you in the mail. Talk about reaping romantic rewards!

Rule #6: Make a commitment to write romantic love letters regularly

Writing romantic love letters is not a one-time shot in the arm to your relationship. Letter-writing is just one tool (albeit a very powerful one) in your romantic toolbox.

So use them from time to time, or on special occasions, as your letters might lose their effectiveness if they are received too often. But don’t wait too long, either!

Make it a priority to surprise your spouse with words from the heart on a regular basis…not just on your anniversary or when you’re in the doghouse. The goal here is to show continuous appreciation.

Rule #7: Remember to proofread your writing

After you have written your romantic letter, proofread your writing to make sure it’s free of errors. You also want to be certain that your letter conveys the message that you think you’re sending.

After your spouse receives the romantic letter, you’ll notice the following positive benefits:

• Deepened intimacy, romance and trust within your relationship,
• Your connection will be strengthened, and help you weather the storms to come,
• You’ll be able to express your feelings more easily when talking with your spouse later on,
• You’ll both re-experience those exciting feelings you had during your dating and honeymoon stages,
• Your spouse will have a keepsake that will serve as a visible reminder of your everlasting love.

I hope that by now you’re convinced of the benefits of writing a romantic love letter, and how much they will help your relationship.

But…some of my readers aren’t convinced they can write a romantic love letter on their own.

The Perfect Love Letter In About 15 Minutes…No Matter How Rusty You Are!

Suppose it’s been a long time since you’ve expressed your feelings in writing (or in general), and you feel like you’re not super-creative and need a little help?

To help you write romantic letters that will keep the flames of your love burning strong, I created a special checklist for you, which I call…

“Our Perfect Love Letter Checklist – 5 Simple Steps to the Perfect Love Letter”

This checklist outlines:

– How to never get stuck on what to write about
– The secret ingredients to crafting the perfect love letter
– The things to say that will make your spouse’s heart melt
– The way to deliver the romantic letter that will WOW your spouse

I am giving away a FREE copy of this checklist. Download your copy now.

You can click here to grab it now:

Then, get ready to give your spouse the surprise of the year with your own, original romantic love letter.

You’ll thank me later. Good luck!

Jun 28

How to Help a Spouse with a Gambling Problem

By Dustin | Help

How to Help a Spouse with a GamblingIs your spouse currently dealing with a gambling problem, and you can’t figure out why they’re behaving the way they are?

There are lots of people that can go out to a casino and enjoy the fun in gambling whether they win or lose.

However, there are other individuals who over the course of time develop an addiction to gambling that can ultimately tear apart their lives.

From the outside looking in, it seems as if a person should be able to control their actions – especially when the consequences are severe.

Be that as it may, compulsive gambling and/or addiction are progressive and complicated illnesses that eventually grow beyond their control.

Understanding What Compulsive Gambling is

Winning is something that we all hope to do when we gamble (or compete on some level). When we actually do win, there’s an instant feeling of thrill and accomplishment.

These overwhelming feelings are triggered by chemicals released into the “feel good” section of the brain. Naturally, the brain wants to feel this feeling again and thus begins to actions of repetitive gambling.

What was once a monthly trip to the casino then becomes gambling online and/or betting on sports. The more you win, the more you want to gamble. The more you lose the more you want to win again. Eventually, it is out of your control and the brain simply feels it “needs” to win in order to feel good again.

Some might assume that if they can be satisfied with gambling on occasion, so should those who suffer from compulsive gambling or an addiction. However, it is important to point out that everyone is different and thus can be affected by gambling in a different way.

While one person could develop an addiction after gambling for the first time, others may not develop an addiction for several years. There are varying factors that determine when a person may or may not develop an addiction.

Signs Of a Gambling Problem

After fully understanding the meaning of a compulsive gambler or a gambling addict, the next step in helping your loved one with their issue is to educate yourself on the warning signs.

Below are a few of these signs to consider:

  • Has your spouse started gambling more than usual?
  • Are they spending money that you don’t have to spend on gambling?
  • Do they gamble despite your concern?
  • Does gambling keep them from completing daily responsibilities at home and/or at work?
  • Have they begun to lie about their gambling activities in an effort to keep you off their back?
  • Have they begun stealing and/or committing fraud as a means to get money to gamble?
  • Do they ask others for small loans and use it to gamble (or to cover gambling debts)?

If you’ve recognized any of these signs in your spouse, you will need to address the matter so that you can get them assistance with their illness.

Approaching Your Loved One

Dealing with the realization that your spouse may have a gambling problem can be a hard pill to swallow.

Prior to approaching them on the subject matter, it may be ideal that you first take a few deep breaths and equip yourself with resourceful information on gambling addictions. When you do approach your spouse, it will be important that you approach him with love and concern and not from a place of pain or anger.

When you’re dealing with something as serious as addiction, you must handle it delicately to ensure that what you have to say does not seem like an ambush. Below are a few tips on talking with a loved one:

· Sort through your feelings first – the moment you realize there is a gambling problem, you don’t want to address the issue right then.

Take the time to ensure that you’re fully educated on addiction and how to best help your loved one prior to having a discussion.

· Be an effective communicator – when you’re dealing with something as serious as addiction it is important that you do as much listening as you do talking.

If your loved one is made to feel like all you’re doing is pointing fingers, they may be reluctant to confide in you, or even worse, refuse to get help.

· Share what you’ve learned – After having addressed your concerns with your loved one, and having listened to their feelings on the matter, sharing what you’ve learned about gambling addiction is a great way to show them you care.

You can discuss what addiction is, what the warning signs are, and the various ways to get help.

Getting Help

There are several methods in which you can get help for your spouse and their gambling addiction. There is essentially talking with a therapist, going with a rehab facility for outpatient treatment options, or going for long term care inpatient treatment options.

While everyone has a different path to recovery, Prescotthouse.net, a rehab facility for men, discusses why long term treatment is ideal for optimal recovery. After deciding which route you’re going to take, reaching out to the best service provider right away is ideal.

The sooner your loved one can get help, the better off they’ll be.

Dealing with mental illness of any kind can be traumatic not only for the person suffering from the illness, but for the family as well.

If your spouse is currently struggling with a gambling problem, or any form of addiction, it is ideal that you first educate yourself, recognize the signs, and approach them in a loving and supportive way.

When they’re ready to change, knowing that they have you in their corner to get help will make their recovery that much more successful.

This post was contributed by writer, Christine Michaels.

Jun 24

Marriage 101: How to Keep the Passion Alive

By Dustin | Romance

Marriage 101When you were a kid (and maybe now again as a parent), you’ve probably watched a dozen Disney movies featuring wonderful princesses.

In these animated films, having your own happily ever after seems like an easy and simple thing to do.

The characters kiss, head off somewhere romantic, and all their problems will magically go away.

But now that you’re married, you finally realized that love is not as smooth-sailing and easy as it looks. As the years go by, you start feeling that the spark you once had is slowly diminishing.

The kissing, hand-holding, and other things that you were doing 12 years ago suddenly felt so foolish or boring.

All marriages have their rough patches. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to love someone for more than a decade.

Here are some effective ways to maintain a healthy relationship that will last for a long time…and keep the passion alive!

1. Have a toast

Have you met your fitness goals during the past few months? Did your husband managed to go beyond his quota at work?

For these special occasions, you can pop open a bottle of Tesco Cristal Champagne and toast to your success. What’s more, you can also have a romantic dinner by candlelight while sipping a glass of light liquor.

Celebrating even the simplest victories will give your relationship a positive vibe.

2. Praise goes a long way

Even the simple act of telling your wife that she is beautiful is a great way to create a healthy relationship. Look for the things that make your partner unique.

Build a habit of pointing out her positive side instead of criticizing her every day.  And wives, don’t forget that your husband would love to hear or read some affirmations, too!

3. Relive happy moments

Do you still remember your first date? Do you have some pictures of your first international trip as a couple?

Take a trip down memory lane and remember all those happy moments together! Remembering all those fun memories is a great way to change your mindset and attract a more positive vibe.

When you and your spouse are going through a rough patch, going over the highlights of your marriage will give your relationship a boost.

4. Show your support

There will come a time when your partner will need a shoulder to cry on. Everyone needs someone to talk to.

The trick here is to be supportive and show them that you’ve got their back. If your husband gets fired from  work, avoid the urge to say something like “You should have put more effort in your work.” If your wife is having an argument with a friend or relative, don’t try to “fix” things and offer solutions just yet.

Right now, your spouse just needs someone to listen. Be there and show your support and affection.

Got any more tips for keeping the love and passion strong in a long-term relationship? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Jun 16

Protect Your Marriage by Protecting Your Finances

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

Protect Your Marriage by Protecting Your

The Bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

But experience tells us that the lack of money is at the root of all kinds of marriage problems. A survey of Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA™) professionals revealed finances to be the third leading cause of divorce, trailing only behind basic incompatibility and infidelity.

Other lists put it at #4. It is always in the top ten.

When you examine the lists more closely, you can see it all over the top ten lists. It appears disguised as other things.

Consider basic incompatibility. Finances are one of the main areas where couples find themselves incompatible.

Lack of communication is another place where financial issues hide, as couples seldom communicate about financial issues until it comes to a boil.

When you really think about it, money is not just on most of the top ten lists, it is most of the top ten lists.

The challenge is keeping your marriage from becoming one of the data points for one of those lists. It is abundantly clear that if you do not deal with your financial issues before you get married, you will be working through them after you’re not.

Here are some ways to keep money from parting you asunder:

Make Financial Stability a Precondition of Marriage

Assuming you haven’t yet tied the knot, it is not too late to make financial stability the priority it needs to be.

In modern times in a free country, no one would willingly marry without love as a precondition. Sobriety may be another precondition. If it’s not, it should be. Stable finances should be in that conversation as well.

That is not to say that you should use credit scores as a basis of marriage. But those scores should be known to both parties, and a part of the conversation. A low credit score may indicate bad luck, or irresponsibility. Either way, it is a sign of financial instability.

Why not wait until those issues are resolved before getting married? You are going to need good credit. While those issues are being resolved, you will have time to determine if there is an underlying matter of financial irresponsibility.

Let that be a deal-breaker before, rather than after the marriage.

Insure Everything

Health insurance seems like an obvious place to start. You fell in love with someone you consider strong, beautiful, and talented. Both you and your spouse are smart and nicely employed.

What could possibly go wrong? How about a tumble down the stairs while carrying the groceries, or an auto accident, or a brain tumor? What could go wrong? Everything! Lost health means lost work, means lost income.

Slightly less obvious is insuring your stuff. Just starting out, you might decide to rent instead of own. You might also be under the delusion that you do not have much by way of possession. But seldom is the time when this is actually true.

If you have to file a renters insurance claim due to a break-in or fire, you will quickly discover how much you have (had) to lose. Without renters insurance, you will have to find the money to replace all your clothes, jewelry, electronics and such.

You may even have to pay the medical bills of anyone injured while in your rented space. If everything is not insured, then anything can be a financial time bomb set to go off in your marriage at any time.

Save Money

A savings account is a type of insurance. It is a hedge against the unforeseen.

When uninsured expenses happen (and they will), saved money can mean a saved marriage. It is debt that you do not have to incur, an argument that you do not need to have, and stress you do not have to experience.

Savings is the difference between you remaining financially stable, and going financially sideways.

Marriage is fragile. Some percentage of divorce is inevitable. But it is tragic to have your marriage survive infidelity, shifting priorities, and boredom, only to be torpedoed by finances.

That is one tragedy that can be avoided.

This post was contributed by guest writer Christine Michaels.

Jun 02

A 3-Minute Prayer for Busy Christians

By Dustin | Spirituality

3-Minute Prayer for Busy ChristiansHow faithful and consistent are you in your prayer life?

That can be a tough question to answer for many of us.

I know that I struggle to keep prayer in its rightful place as a daily and meaningful practice in my life.

When I do make the time to pray and have a wonderful conversation with God, it’s usually while I’m laying in bed at night at the end of a long day.

Inevitably, I end up going off on some crazy daydream tangent and/or falling asleep before my “chat” is complete.

The problem I seem to have with prayer is two-fold:

  • I don’t make it a high priority in my schedule
  • I sometimes just don’t know what to pray about – which really doesn’t make it very effective in my case

To me, prayer is one of those things that should just come naturally, but it doesn’t always happen that way.  I crave some structure (I am an engineer after all), yet I want to have a very personal and real conversation with our Lord.

That means that simply saying the Our Father, while it’s wonderful, isn’t enough – I need to connect through a prayerful conversation.

The 3-Minute Prayer Anyone Can Do

I’ve been struggling with this for a while, which is why I was so excited during Mass yesterday when our new priest started talking about having these same struggles in his early years of preaching.  It was clear he could relate to the busy members of our parish.

While he (rightfully) said that “If you’re too busy to pray, you’re too busy” – he also offered up a fantastic prayer that even the busiest among us can use as the center of their daily prayer life.

Here’s how it goes:

1. For the first minute, pray to God the Father and THANK HIM specifically for all the good things that you’ve experienced over the last 24 hours.

2. For the second minute, pray to God the Son (yeah, that’s Jesus) to ASK FORGIVENESS for all of your sins and wrongdoings over the last 24 hours.

3. For the last minute, pray to God the Holy Spirit to ASK FOR THE GRACE and strength you need for the particular issues you’re facing now and over the next day.

I used this approach last night (and stayed awake) and again this morning during a morning run.

To me, it’s a perfect way to focus on three different areas where I need God in my life, while also recognizing the mystery of the Holy Trinity that we believe as Catholics.  Of course, you could modify the structure slightly to suit your needs and beliefs.

I hope this simple approach to prayer helps you make your relationship with God a daily encounter and enhances your marriage in the process.

If you think this approach is helpful, I encourage you to share it with others by clicking the Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter buttons above or by sending it to a friend via email.

God Bless!