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May 21

How Alcohol Dependency Affects Your Relationship

By Dustin | General

How Alcohol Dependency Affects Your RelationshipTo keep a relationship stable is challenging; whether it involves two people sharing their lives, communicating with friends and family, or just getting along with teammates at work.

Add to the picture a silent partner like alcohol, and the challenge increases substantially.

Not everyone who consumes alcohol develops dependency. In fact, studies show that moderate amount of alcohol intake has some health benefits. However, some women may be more in danger of developing dependency.

Women who are considered dependent have the following experiences:

Withdrawal: This means a person experiences unpleasant side effects upon leaving alcohol. This is why some women adopt a ‘hair of the dog’ routine near morning, or keep alcohol near them. Mild symptoms of withdrawal include shakiness, nervousness, and an abnormally fast heartbeat.

Tolerance: This is when the individual needs to consume larger amounts of alcohol to feel the same effect they used to feel with less consumption. For example, a woman used to relax with two glasses of beer, and now it takes the double to feel the same state of relaxation.

Loss of control: This can include consumption for longer periods than intended, or more frequently than intended. Loss of control is when the functioning of the brain is disturbed to an extent than the individual can’t remember what they are doing. The person then gets told by others about their activities.

If you are concerned with alcohol dependence, either your own, or an individual you care about, perhaps this post can give you some useful insight.

What are the costs of dependency?

A relationship in which a partner is dependent on alcohol can become problematic; such couples are often unhappy, and dependence may lead to call for counseling. As addiction gets worse, it takes more time away from the relationship, and creates an emotional distance between partners that becomes challenging to overcome with time.

When substance abuse creates a situation where couples fight often, things can become violent. And when the abuse becomes the main reason for arguing or fighting, a vicious cycle can develop, in which alcohol dependence causes conflicts, and leads to more abuse as a way to reduce stress.

It can be difficult to know what to do if you are dependent on alcohol and in a relationship because it between the ‘good’ times, life can become disturbing. The alcoholic may try to change the patterns that are causing the trouble.

But just when you feel you are starting to do well, problems crop up and you are back to where you begin; anger, sadness, and fear of being stressed out because of leaving alcohol. These are the reasons why alcohol problems shouldn’t be left untreated.

Overcoming alcohol dependence

The route to recovery begins with regaining control and redefining your life.

A womens recovery center can provide options for customized programs that help you get rid of shame, guilt and stress of your relationship with alcohol and back to managing your life again.

Has your marriage been impacted by alcohol dependence? Please share in the comments below.

May 12

These 4 Letters Could Destroy Your Marriage

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

Covenant EyesThere’s an incredibly serious problem facing many marriages today. It’s also the fastest growing addiction in North America.

It’s spelled P-O-R-N and there’s a good chance that you’ve either been affected by it or will be at some point.  

In this recent post, a counselor shares the first-hand accounts of several women who have been hurt by their husband’s use of pornography.  

It’s pretty chilling, and these real-world examples show that porn impacts all areas of our marriages – even though our culture tries to minimize it as harmless fun.

If you or your spouse have experienced the grasp of pornography, you know all too well about the damage that it causes to your intimacy, trust and communication.  It’s very difficult for porn and a healthy marriage to co-exist for any length of time.

But there’s more to the story than just husbands getting sucked in and hurting their wives in the process.  This is an issue that impacts all of us, especially if you have children.

  • Did you know that 43% of kids first view porn before the age of 13?
  • Did you know that the fastest-growing group of porn users is WOMEN age 25 and under?

As a Dad, that first fact in particular sends chills down my spine.  Porn is extremely easy to access in our connected world, and our kids are targeted more than we would ever imagine.

So what can you do about it?

The only way to combat this issue in your house (and on all those mobile devices that you and your kids have) is by being proactive.  

That’s why I highly recommend a service called Covenant Eyes to protect you.

Specifically, Covenant Eyes’ Internet Accountability service allows you to see a detailed report on the online activities of each of your family members.  This not only cuts down on the temptation to visit questionable websites, but it allows for a conversation to take place among family members to help everyone make wiser choices about their web usage.

In addition, Covenant Eyes offers filtering services to ensure your kids, your spouse and yourself don’t access harmful sites in the first place.  Both services work across all of your devices, so you can rest assured that your family is being protected at all times.

Covenant Eyes also has some incredible free resources on their site:

Click here to grab the “Porn and Your Husband” e-book

Click here to get the “Your Brain on Porn” Christian e-book

Thank you for taking a few minutes today to think about this issue and take some action to protect your marriage and your family.

It’s one of the most important things you can do to protect your marriage and your kids.

Apr 21

When Your Home Runs You…and How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed!

By Dustin | Household Management

Do you ever look around your house and wonder how things got so out of hand?

Bethany and I have struggled with “homemaking” since the earliest days of our marriage.

The Ultimate Homemaking BundleEarly on, it was all about trying to figure out who was doing what and splitting up chores.  But then…

kids came along and the household duties grew exponentially with each new child.

And after 14 years of marriage, the challenges never go away since our family’s needs continue to evolve.

The Dream…and The Reality

I definitely get overwhelmed with it all sometimes, but I think it’s especially hard on the wife of the home.

Bethany has told me that when she was a little girl, she dreamed about getting married, becoming a mommy, and having her own home.

She imagined a home that was more than just 4 walls, a roof, and a mortgage.

She wanted to make a special place that was a magical mash-up of:

• a school,
• a playground,
• a refuge,
• a boo-boo “fix it” station,
• a “you can do it” pep rally, and
• a safe place for personal expression, sharing and growth.

And then real life happened…

…laundry, diapers, stretch marks, and never-ending meal prep… money worries, gritty floors, soap scum, and the stain that won’t come out of our son’s favorite shirt… holiday stress, and teaching our daughters to read (and master long division)… a husband who works long hours, a kid with the sniffles, stomach aches and a fever… and a secret dream to run her own little business from home.

As rewarding as it is, homemaking is hard work and it doesn’t always come easily.

How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

It turns out that we’re not born with all the knowledge and patience we need to keep a happy, organized and faith-filled home.

Nope, the truth is that Homemaking is a Skill!

And that’s awesome news because it means that you can learn to be a better homemaker and get specific help in those areas that cause you stress.

That’s why we’re thrilled to announce the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle!

This is a collection of the best resources in the world when it comes to homemaking, and we’ve used several of these books to help run our own house with less stress and more smiles.

What is the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle?

BigBookBundle

It is a complete library of 99 eBooks and eCourses to help you nurture the beauty and productivity in your home and family relationships.

Here are the topics you’ll see inside:

Cleaning… create a healthy, toxin-free home
DIY/Homemade… fun and frugal ways to express your personal style
Devotionals and Faith… take a break from the daily grind to renew yourself
Finances… build a budget that works
Cooking & Meal Planning… serve easier, tastier meals in less time
Holidays & Special Events… brighten up old family traditions and create new ones
Homeschooling… homeschool with grace and ease
Marriage… heat up your marriage
Motherhood… find peace, balance & joy in mothering
Organizing… conquer the clutter and simplify your life
Pregnancy & Babies… enjoy a healthy pregnancy and prepare to nurture your baby
Health & Wellness… soothe aches & pains with natural remedies, and
Working from Home… hone your talents, live your passions and earn money to help your family

And for a limited time, the price is only $29.97. (A total value of $984.74.)

That breaks down to 30 cents per book… a full 97% discount! (And yes, everything is backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.)

77EbooksThere are also some amazing bonuses from generous, inspiring companies that understand homemakers like you.

Every gift is yours to enjoy.

I wonder which one will be your favorite?

Even if you only want a few of the nearly 100 books in this bundle, it’s still an incredible value.

And you can always share the others with friends or save them for a time when they’re just what you need – because we all know how unpredictable life can be on the home front~

But this bundle is only available for a very limited time…

Plus An Extra Bonus for Engaged Marriage Readers

As if the massive value provided by this bundle wasn’t enough, I want to sweeten the pot a little more and make sure you get the Marriage help that you need.  Plus, when you purchase the bundle through my special link, I get a referral bonus so it’s a win-win.

So, when you pick up the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle this week, I’m going to give you a FREE copy of our popular 15 Minute Marriage Makeover Premium Edition.  This includes the book plus some amazing bonus materials (a $16.99 value) – you can see the details here.

To claim your bonus, just purchase the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle through this link.

Then forward your receipt via email to me at Dustin [at] engagedmarriage.com and we’ll get you hooked up!

IMPORTANT: The Ultimate Homemaking Bundle will only be available from 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, April 20 until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, April 27 so pick it up now while you’re thinking about it.

Apr 07

5 Awesome (and Worthless) Ways to Improve Communication in Your Marriage

By Dustin | Communication

5 Awesome (and Worthless) Ways to Improve Communication in Your MarriageSo, what’s the #1 thing most couples say is the key to a happy marriage?

Communication. Duh.

And of course it’s become the cliche, go-to response from grandparents when the video camera comes around at every wedding reception for good reason.  It’s true!

Good communication skills impact every single aspect of your relationship – from how you handle money to how you raise your kids to how you make your kids 🙂 – there’s just no way around it.

So, I think we can all agree that communication is vital to a healthy and happy marriage.

Want to Communicate With Your Spouse Like the "Good Old Days"?

Then don't miss our special announcement at the end of this post!

5 Awesome Communication Tips from Veteran Couples

That said, when’s the last time you’ve given your own approach to communication with your spouse any thought?

If you’re like me, it’s been a while – like most important things, it’s entirely too easy to lose sight of in the face of other more “urgent” matters.

Well, I was thinking about it recently, so I reached out to the smartest group of people I know for some advice.

Here are 5 fantastic tips they shared when asked what advice they’d give to newlyweds:

1. Under-communicate criticism.  Over-communicate praise.

2. Make your body language and your words match.

3. Always fight fair and remember you can’t take back hurtful words.

4. Use “I” statements, not “you” statements.

5. Don’t share your spouse’s faults with your family and friends.  You will soon forgive, but they may not.

How great is that?  These tips are 100% spot-on and I love them.

There’s just one problem.

Why Those Awesome Tips are Worthless

I love good marriage tips and posts with lists of Top 5 Ways to do stuff (like this one) as much as anyone.

They’re often inspirational and make us feel good when we read them.  Heck, we may even remember one or two quips to pass along to a young couple.

The problem is wonderful tips like these rarely impact your marriage in any real way.

You read them, nod and go back to doing the exact same thing in your life.

I’m not criticizing – I’m the king of the “nod and go.”

The truth is that it takes a little more effort to make a lasting and valuable improvement in your relationship.

Here’s a few reasons why reading top tips doesn’t help much and what you can do instead.

  • You Need to Invest

The reality is that you need to invest in training to make it stick.  This can be in the form of focused time or money, preferably both.

There’s free information on every topic under the sun available on the Internet, but quick and free advice rarely makes a meaningful impact.  It’s only when you’ve got some “skin in the game” that you take what you learn to heart and make it count.

  • You Need to Take Action

I’d say this is the biggest problem most of us face when we learn something valuable, and it’s tied directly to the lack of investment we have in the advice.  You can get the best marriage-boosting tips in the world, but it means nothing if you don’t act on it.

Those who take action on mediocre ideas will get infinitely more results than those that take no action on the best ideas.  If you want to improve your marriage, do something (real) about it.

  • You Need Some Real Support

This is the final area where people fail when it comes to learning and growing.  The reality is that sometimes we need some personal attention from a trusted expert to see results, and it’s always really beneficial to be part of a community.

With a sense of community, we get inspired to take action and there’s a sense of accountability.  Of course, the best accountability is a spouse who is walking alongside us in our journey to being the best husband or wife we can be.

Here’s What You Can Do Now to Make a Real Improvement In Your Marriage

I’m not going to go all Debbie Downer on you and leave you hanging here.  I’m going to tell you what you can do to make a lasting impact for the better – and it’s pretty darn easy.

Last year, I was trying to help a reader with an issue related to communication.  It was a pretty common question that I’ve seen many times.

I was starting to give her a similar answer that I’d given others in the past.  As I was typing my necessarily limited email response, it hit me – this is awesome advice that’s not going to be useful at all.

She needed more than my short “tip-type” response could offer.  She needed a full answer with practical action steps provided in a setting that required focus and investment on her part.

And frankly, she needed it from someone other than me.

Well, I should say my perspective was good, but adding in the perspective of a true communication expert was exponentially more helpful.

So, that’s where the idea of the Engaged Marriage How-To Workshop series was born.  I host a workshop accompanied by a guest expert on a very specific and highly important topic.

We present very practical, action-oriented info that benefits married couples.  Plus, we answer personal questions during the event and usually have bonus materials (like books) to maximize the help they receive.

We’ve completed five of these How-To Workshops on various topics so far, and the results and feedback have been tremendous!

Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage [SALE]

Our most popular How-To Workshop was one on communication called How To Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage (Talking Optional), and we’ve made it even better with new bonuses and more convenient ways to use the training (video, audio and full text transcript).

As we bring it out of the vault (you know, like a Disney movie), we decided to have a Kick-Off Sale this week – you will save 35%!

I was joined for this workshop by my go-to resource when it comes to healthy and helpful communication, Dr. Corey Allan.  Corey is a marriage and family therapist, and he’s also a father and a husband for over 20 years.  He’s awesome.

This communication workshop is practical, actionable and it will impact your marriage for the better.  We actually guarantee as much.

So, if you’re ready to invest in your marriage and take solid action to be a better communicator with your spouse (and everyone else), you should definitely check out this workshop. 

And there’s no better time than right now during our big sale.

Click Here for Instant Access to the Communication Workshop!Communication Workshop SALE

Mar 27

The Golden Rule of Marriage: You’re Doing it Wrong

By Dustin | Romance

Golden Rule of Marriage (2)My wife recently told me about a friend of hers who decided to give her boyfriend flowers for their anniversary.

She figured that she would love getting flowers, so why not get them for her boyfriend?

He would love them!

He was less than thrilled.

Oh, sure, he thanked her for the gift. But he definitely didn’t love the flowers.

And my wife’s friend an important lesson about relationships.

It’s a mistake we all make at times. What did she learn?

Don’t take the Golden Rule too literally.

Here is the Golden Rule, as taught by Jesus:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV)

So, don’t buy your husband flowers because you would like flowers.

Do think about what your husband would like and get that, because you would like him put thought into the perfect gift for you.

But you’ve probably heard or read this advice a million times already.

“Don’t buy your wife golf clubs because you would like getting them.” I’ve probably seen that exact example 100 times.

Gift giving is just one example of taking the Golden Rule too literally. There are many other, more subtle, ways for you to make this mistake.

One of the most critical areas you can get this wrong is in meeting your spouse’s core needs.

Your Spouse’s Core Needs

Have you ever met a couple that is just brimming with love?

And not a new couple, either. A couple that has been married for years but are still obviously in love.

You can see it how they talk to each other, and look at each other, and smile when they are together. They laugh and flirt and lovingly tease each other.

Or have you seen a couple that looks like they can barely stand each other?

They don’t spend much time together, but when they do sparks are flying. And not the good kind of sparks.

They bicker back and forth, treat each other sarcastically, and generally make life unpleasant for each other and anyone else unfortunate enough to witness it.

Both these couples are where they are because of how they’ve handled their core needs.

Let’s take a look at 3 different ways of looking at core needs, according to 3 authors.

Love and Respect

Love and RespectIn his book “Love and Respect”, Emerson Eggerichs explains that a wife’s core need is to feel loved and a husband’s core need is to feel respected.

He also suggests that women see the world through “love colored lenses”, meaning that a well intentioned wife will naturally be able to show love for her husband, but respecting him is more difficult.

And men see the world through “respect colored lenses”, so a man easily knows how to respect his wife, but he struggles to show her love.

The 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love LanguagesGary Chapman describes a similar problem in his book “The 5 Love Languages”.

He says that there are 5 primary ways that people communicate love, and most people have 1 or 2 primary love languages.

Spouses that have different love languages usually try to show love to their spouse in their own love language, leaving the spouse feeling unloved and neglected.

The 5 love languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Physical Touch

My wife scores high on Acts of Service, while I score high on Physical Touch. This can lead to conflict because we each want to show love in different ways.

You and your spouse can take the 5 Love Languages Survey when you pick up the book to learn what each other’s needs are so you can be more intentional about meeting them.

The Most Important Emotional Needs

His Needs, Her NeedsIn “His Needs, Her Needs” author William F. Harley Jr. outlines 10 different “most important emotional needs” and explains that husbands and wives usually have opposite scores for these needs.

Five are usually more important for women and the other five are usually more important for men.

But they can be mixed in any way in any specific relationship.

He says that feelings of romantic love are the result of your core emotional needs being met.

The 10 emotional needs are:

  • Affection
  • Sexual Fulfillment
  • Conversation
  • Recreational Companionship
  • Honesty and Openness
  • Physical Attractiveness
  • Financial Support
  • Domestic Support
  • Family Commitment
  • Admiration

You and your spouse can take the Emotional Needs Questionnaire when you pick up the book to learn about each others core emotional needs.

Do Unto Your Spouse What THEY Need to Feel Loved

While these authors have different ways of looking at core needs, they all agree that couples aren’t very good at meeting each other’s needs. It’s instinctual to try to make your spouse happy by doing what would make you happy.

One of the keys to a passionate marriage is to be intentional about learning and fulfilling your spouse’s core needs.

Another concept from Harvey’s “His Needs, Her Needs” is the love bank. When you do things to meet your spouse’s core needs you are depositing units into his or her love bank, which creates feelings of romantic love, intimacy, and trust.

Neglecting core needs and negative interactions withdraw units from the love bank, which can cause resentment, bitterness, and even hate if the balance goes too far into the negative.

So the happy couple from our example above has learned how to keep their love banks full, while the other couple has a negative balance from neglect and poor treatment.

If this couple learns to focus on meeting each other’s core needs, they can fill up their love banks again completely turn their marriage around.

Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle. Maybe your marriage is ok, but not full of passion and intimacy.

If you as a couple learn how to meet each other’s core needs and keep your love banks full by avoiding withdrawals, you can have a more passionate, engaged marriage.

A great way to get started is to check out the books discussed above (Love and RespectThe 5 Love Languages or His Needs, Her Needs) and pick the one that resonates the most with you. 

Read it, discuss it and put it into action – you’ll be so glad you did!

Author Bio: Daniel Robertson is a husband and father and writes to improve Christian marriages at God’s Help For Marriage. Download his free report to learn 3 Simple Keys to Create More Passion and Intimacy in Your Marriage.

Mar 12

From Bitter Betrayal to Healing & Happiness

By Dustin | Communication

Recovering from Betrayal in MarriageYou’re married … committed.

Trust is high. Satisfaction is deep.

For some, however, unspeakable tests are given.

For some couples, the hideous fingers of Betrayal spread their bony fingers around your necks in an undisguised effort to destroy all that you have built – are building.

The impossible happened. One of you betrayed the other.

Betrayal Has Many Faces

A sexual affair. An emotional affair. Missing money.

Once conquered addictions reappear. Serious lies uncovered. The list is long.

The ripples of discovery mutate into angry, overwhelming waves of devastation.

Your initial reaction? Shock. How could this happen?

You descend into anger. Demand atonement. The piper must be paid. You designate yourself the piper.

You rage, pray, call a friend, withdraw, cry, escape into sleep, on and on.

There are as many ways to express anger as there are possibilities for expression.

Hope Begins to Return But It’s Only the Start

You both want to stay in the game.

You spend painful hours with a counselor … or your minister … alone … together … until almost imperceptibly hope returns.

You’re going to survive. You commit again.

But your work isn’t finished.

The final step — sometimes the hardest step – must be taken.

It’s Time to Forgive

It’s time to forgive – -unconditionally. Otherwise, it’s never over.

The whole experience must be buried in the deepest sea “as far as the east is from the west,” NEVER to be visited again. It’s not easy.

But the permanence of your reconciliation depends on it … literally.

Surviving and thriving after betrayal requires – demands – committing to forgive.

Betrayal is one of the most brutal experiences life can throw at us.

Betrayal is an emotional and spiritual sucker-punch. It hurts — badly.

Can you heal? Absolutely. You’re not the first couple to have survived it, and you won’t be the last.

Plus, there is a pay-off.

Forgiveness enables you to move on wiser, more forgiving, more loving, and closer to each other than you ever imagined.

How to Heal After Betrayal

Academic and religious literature alike teach the same essential healing steps for regaining emotional balance, spiritual equilibrium and, most importantly, the ability to move on.

• Be angry. It’s healthy.

• Grieve. It’s normal.

• Reflect. It’s healing.

• Get out of your shoes and slip into the shoes of the Betrayer. Try to understand the “whys.” Theologian Thomas a Kempis wisely challenges us: Be assured that if you knew all, you would pardon all.

• Remember your humanity. Draw courage from the times you were offered the grace of forgiveness.

• Then move on. Hold your head high. You and your spouse were incredibly brave. Not every couple is this strong. You survived a near-death experience

There is a pay-off. The day will come when you unexpectedly catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. Your reflection will shock you because in your reflection is someone at peace.

The bitter cup of betrayal transformed you in the best of ways. All of that relentless pain morphed you and your relationship into something more fulfilling and beautiful than you ever could have imagined.

Good marriages are sometimes messy with confusing and conflicting layers.

But when regularly given the antibiotic of forgiveness, they heal and grow into marriages that are stronger at the broken places.

And life is good again. I promise.

“The weak can never forgive, Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi

Dr. Gloria Wall spent her career as an educator. Currently, she and her husband, the man who inspired this entire idea, live in Edwardsville, Illinois.

She writes a blog focusing on seniors who are committed to aging intentionally, gracefully, and with dignity, no matter their outer circumstances. Her writing is generalizable to all ages. Dr. Wall is currently working on a book entitled Aging with Intention. You may visit her website at www.suddenlyseptember.com

Feb 10

How To Deal With A New City, A New Spouse And A New Life

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

New City, New Spouse, New LifeYour long distance engagement has led to a decision to move to a new city for your new spouse.

While it’s certainly exciting, it’s also a little scary because you’re diving head first into the unknown.

Yes, you’re doing it with an open mind and an open heart, but you’re also leaving behind your family, friends, and hometown conveniences, routines, and comforts.

Only too often people fear the unknown without pausing to consider that with risk come rewards, and moving to a new place where you only know one person is an opportunity for personal growth.

7 Opportunities for Personal Growth

Here are at least 7 wonderful discoveries awaiting you:

1. You’ll make new friends.

In a new city, you’ll meet people refreshingly different from the people you now know. They’ll have different ideas, perspectives, and experiences from your own, and by meeting them you’ll enrich your own view of life.

2. You’ll be free of your family’s expectations.

The new people you’ll meet will know nothing about you, and it will be like starting over with a clean slate. If you’re normally shy, for example, you can practice being extroverted. Can you change your personality?

Yes and no. You may not be able to change everything, but you have some leeway when it comes to changing your self-beliefs and your habits.

3. You’ll be exposed to different social patterns.

With new places to go and new people to meet, you’ll find new way to stretch and stimulate you.

4. You’ll have a chance to try out a new lifestyle.

If the city is in a different state or you’re a country person exposed to life in the big city, you’ll find new adventures, new perspectives, and new ways of having fun.

5. You’ll have a chance to reinvent your work.

If you have to work, you may find a new field to interest you, or to go back to school to learn new work skills. You might even be able to try things that you were not able to do before, like start an Internet Marketing business working from home because now you won’t be the only income earner in the household.

When trying to reinvent yourself, value investor Guy Spiers suggest that you should learn from the best, associate with all the right people, and stay honest with yourself and others. Although he was mainly talking about business success, these rules apply to almost everything in life.

In your new environment, you may come across all three of these opportunities.

6. You’ll learn new things.

Your new spouse will probably want to interest you in things that you’ve never tried before—new sports, new hobbies, and new books and courses.

7. You’ll have a chance to drop things that didn’t work.

You’ll have an opportunity to leave behind those aspects of your life that didn’t work too well—cranky friends who complained about everything, dominant bosses who expected too much from you, and even bad habits encouraged by your circle of friends that no longer serve you.

You can bring out hidden or repressed parts of yourself, contemplate your ideals self, and work to become the person that you always wanted to be. This can include improving how you handle relationships, finances, and a lot of other things.

7 Practical Steps to Take

While your new spouse may be able to help you with settling in, you’ll probably have to take many practical steps to make the move.

Here are some things that you will probably want to consider:

1. Get rid of years of clutter.

Deciding what you want to take, leave behind with family, put in storage, sell at a garage sale, post for sale on eBay, donate to a local thrift store, or simply throw away.

Now is a good time for purging old things that you have let clutter your life—from old clothes to things that you haven’t used in years.

2. Sort out your financial affairs.

They may be many things to reconsider and new decisions to make—ranging from loans and leases to banking and insurance.

3. Review your organizational activities.

Close out memberships or transfer memberships in groups or organizations that you’re now participating in.

4. Get help with packing and shipping.

Arrange for long distance movers to help you get all your stuff to your new home.

5. Depart gracefully and cordially.

Start saying goodbye to family and friends early so that you don’t hurt anybody’s feelings by simply packing your bags and disappearing.

6. Learn new skills.

If you’ve lived at home, you may need to learn new domestic skills like how to do laundry, cook meals, or sew.

7. Organize change of address.

You will have to direct all your current mail to your new address.

Conclusion

You’re in for a complete change in your life—a new city, a new spouse, and a new way of living. It can be both exciting and terrifying.

If you take this as an opportunity to grow, adapt, and learn, as well as take care of things before you leave, it will be a wonderful opportunity for you to create a whole new life for yourself.

Moving is stressful as is getting married, and when you combine the two together, expect radical change.

This post was contributed by guest writer Christine Michaels.

Feb 04

How to Craft the Perfect Love Letter for Valentine’s Day (in about 15 minutes)

By Dustin | Romance

How to Craft the Perfect Love LetterWhile Hallmark may tell you otherwise, there’s simply no better gift for your spouse than a romantic love letter.

It makes your spouse feel special, and it expresses your emotions in a format that creates a very personal keepsake.

Plus, if you’re on budget, you can craft an awesome letter for free!

If you’re like me, the idea of writing a romantic letter to a loved one brings back memories of my high school days.

I wrote a lot of “late night love letters” (as my Mom teasingly called them) during my teenage years, and I actually got pretty good at it.  At least that’s what my girlfriend (and fortunately now my wife) tells me.

A love letter will be appreciated whenever you give it, but let’s make sure your husband or wife knows just how much you love and appreciate them this Valentine’s Day.

The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift

If love letters are so great, why don’t we write more romantic letters…especially after we get married?

We know they’ll put a smile on our spouse’s face and make them feel fantastic.  It doesn’t take long to write a great letter, it doesn’t require a trip to the store, and it’s a simple way to add some fun and romance to your marriage.

Love letters seem to fall into the category of something you know you SHOULD do, but you never get around to it. So what gives?

The problem is we tend to get overwhelmed when we think about sitting down to express our feelings in a letter.  We’re not sure what to write about, how to get started or the best way to deliver our letter when we do finally get around to writing it.

Use This Love Letter Checklist to Make It Easy

What if you had a checklist to follow that would make your love letter writing simple and effective?

Good news – in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re giving you our popular Perfect Love Letter Checklist as our gift.

You can click here to grab it now:

When you use this checklist, you’ll find it’s easy to romance your spouse with a love letter…plus:

  • How to never get stuck on what to write about
  • Discover the secret ingredients to craft the perfect love letter, no matter how uncreative you think you are
  • Exactly what to say to make your spouse melt every time
  • How to deliver your romantic letter in a way that will WOW your spouse

Let’s make this the best Valentine’s Day (and night 😉 ) yet – grab your free love letter checklist.

Jan 29

6 Reasons She Freaks Out About Porn

By Dustin | Help

6 Reasons She Freaks Out About PornMike writes, “My wife doesn’t want me to watch porn but she reads erotic literature. She is very defensive when I tell her that is a double standard.”

Porn is everywhere, it seems. TV and movies keep pushing back standards of decency. Even many mainstream websites are plastered with suggestive images and links promising more sexual content.

Like many men, Mike enjoys checking out that stuff. He likes the more explicit stuff, too.

From what he can tell, he’s no more caught up in it than any of his buddies. And yet if his wife finds out he’s been on porn again, she flips out.

Why does porn bug her so much? She seems just as turned on by erotic novels as he is by porn. So why is it such a big deal to her?”

I hear all the time from women who are upset by their partner’s porn viewing. Here’s what they say:

1. I hate that he’d rather be on porn than with me!

“But that’s not true!” many men insist. “Porn is just something to pass some time, she is the actual woman in my life. They don’t even compare!”

And yet their women have the distinct feeling that porn can hold a more potent influence on him than she does. For Gwen, it’s the intensity of her boyfriend’s fascination that gets to her.

It seems to her that he’s more into porn than he is into spending time with her or having sex with her. “Every chance he gets, he watches porn. I popped uptown for an hour the other day – come back and he’d been watching porn.”

Myztikone commented: “I’m pretty cute: 5’1, 100 pounds, blonde hair, petite. Yet my boyfriend loves porn. In fact, he watches it more than he pays attention to me! It hurts me so much. I cry about it when he’s not around. If I bring up how much it hurts me, he gets really upset and a fight starts.

He makes me feel like crap when I try to tell him how I feel. It’s like he doesn’t care at all that it hurts me. After we clear everything up, he’s leaving me alone in bed the next morning to go watch porn on his iPhone and pretend he’s in the shower. I don’t know what to do anymore. I love him more then anything, but he would rather look at other girls’ bodies than mine.”

2. I hate how porn makes me feel about myself and my body!

Gwen finds that it makes her feel worse about herself: “I hate it. It makes me feel disgusting, knowing he’s doing it.”

Senen said, “I checked out his browsing history and was able to see every picture and video. I’m nothing compared to those girls. I hate going out with him now – in fact I can’t, because I feel ugly and I’m aware that he may be looking at girls with big boobs and butts. I wonder if the girls we see in real life look like the girls he’s been looking at online. I don’t know what to do.”

Rachel agrees: “I really hate porn and how it makes me feel. I feel fat and ugly, I feel the need to make myself look better than those women–although I never could.

Why can’t people be decent nowadays? If you’re in a relationship, realize you are making this woman’s self esteem flush down the toilet. They may even hate themselves. I wish men could empathize better.”

3. I hate how porn affects our sex life!

Rachel noticed, “Sex with my boyfriend has just been mechanical lately.”

MK described how it interfered with her and her husband’s ability as a couple to connect sexually: “My husband’s addiction came long before we were married. Since he already had very false ideas of how sex should be, how I should be, sex didn’t work very well.

And why would I want to have sex with him when I always came up short, no amount of sex was enough, and sex was far more about lust and his ‘needs’ than it was about love or emotional connection. I tried to be that wife that ‘fulfilled his yearnings’ so there wasn’t a problem with pornography, and it didn’t work. No amount of sex will keep him away from pornography.

For the most part, I orgasm every time we have sex. Does that make me want sex? No. Because even with orgasm, it’s not fun to feel like a piece of meat, have no emotional connection, and wonder if he was with me or the woman he saw on the screen.”

Najat wrote, “For the 12 years we’ve been married, my husband hasn’t been interested in sex. I have to beg him for it. He was happy if we only did it every three or four months. When we did have sex, it was the same routine.

I want him to open up to me; he just wants to do it quickly. We had loads of talks about it and every time he said he will try but after few days he forgets about every thing I said. It went on so long I stopped asking him. There was a time we did not have sex for two years. He was not slightly bothered.

He finally said he would go to the doctor to find out why he has a low libido, but he never followed through. Well, recently I accidentally found porn on his phone. He only admitted to watching it when I showed him the proof.

The worst thing is that he has been doing it for long, long time with out me realizing it. That entire time I was blaming myself for the problems in our sex life.”

4. I hate how porn affects his personality!

Tristan said, “I know when he’s back on porn because he gets more irritable. He flies off the handle over the littlest things. He yelled at our four-year-old for spilling his juice. He threw the hammer and left the house for an hour because he couldn’t get a hook to hang right for a picture he was trying to put up.”

GW wrote, “The emotional absence can be crippling. In fact, the emotional disconnect was one of the first signs I noticed. While he was into porn he never did anything around the house, was angry much of the time if not allowed to do his own thing, and put nothing into parenting.

His logic was skewed, too, and he sometimes seemed to have the emotional maturity of a preteen. As he’s progressed in his recovery from the addiction to porn, I’ve watched my husband go from a completely disconnected spouse and father back to the loving man he once was.”

5. I hate that he lies about it!

Sandra said, “I’ve been with my boyfriend two years. We agreed to not watch porn at the beginning. I found out that he did four times in the last four years yet he still denies it.”

Senen commented: “He gets mad when I accuse or ask about porn. He claims he stopped four months ago, but he’s lied so much I don’t know whether I can trust him.”

Sharlene described her heartbreak: “My boyfriend told me when I was pregnant that he didn’t look at pictures of naked women anymore. He lied to me for months, saying that he’d only watched a particular sex video because his friend showed it to him at work.

Then I found it on the search engine in the ps3. And last night I found other porn websites on his ps3. I am really disgusted because he used one of my pajama tops to wipe it on! I am really angry. I’ve always tried to be there when he needs me. I can’t get over the fact he lied to me all that time while I was looking after our baby.

If he can lie about that he can lie about anything else. I confronted him last night and he shouted that every guy does it.

6. I hate that I feel so confused and helpless!

Most of the women who comment on my blog say, “I don’t know what to do!”

Sharlene feels torn: “Inside I desperately want to leave.” But there’s another part saying, “Don’t! Just be a family.” Then there’s a part saying, “I’m not happy constantly being lied to, I would be happy without him.”

One woman commented, “I started to feel crazy for feeling the strong emotions I had. I had to recognize the betrayal and heartache and hurt that I felt and work through it and turn it over to God.”

K recalled feeling disturbed by sex early in her marriage to a narcissistic porn addict and not understanding why. “I wanted this lovely, tender connection and instead it felt dark and vulgar. Later I read Jaycee Dugard’s memoir, A Stolen Life, and realized that I related to a lot of how she felt. Instead of just concluding that he must be involved in disgusting things, I felt a dirtiness inside myself.

I couldn’t get rid of a gross feeling in my torso. It got so bad I remember wishing one time that I could take a razor blade and cut that icky feeling out. Looking back now I can see it more clearly, but at the time it was very disorienting.

Sex, this way of connecting that’s supposed to be beautiful and wonderful, instead was a constant downer, a drag not only on the relationship but on my entire life. After years I realized that he was never going to change, and I finally left him. Only now that I have some distance from the entire experience do I see all of the ways it effected me.”


 

Mike and the rest of us need to take these women’s feelings to heart. They’re not overreacting. They don’t need to get over it and realize all men look at porn.

As men, we need to respect women for who they are and trust their sensibilities. We can find it within ourselves to empathize with them and let that empathy guide our behavior. When we feel drawn to porn, we need to take women’s reactions and perspectives into account as we decide whether or not to act on our desires.

We have a choice whether to cause such harm to the woman we love…

How has porn affected your relationship?  Please share in the comments below.

Note from Dustin: I am so glad that Mark shared this testimony about the deep pain that porn is causing in marriages.  If you’re looking for help right now, I’d encourage you to check out Mark’s site and also take a look at Covenant Eyes.

Covenant Eyes not only prevents porn use by men, but by women and teenagers as well.  Given that the fastest growing users of porn are women under the age of 25 and that 43% of kids first view porn before the age of 13, now’s the time to take action.

Mark Chamberlain loves helping people heal from the effects of sexual addiction. He is a psychologist and the Clinical Director at Suncrest Counseling in Salt Lake City, which offers an intensive treatment program for individuals and couples struggling with porn and other addictions.

He is the author of several books including Love You, Hate the Porn: Healing a Relationship Damaged by Virtual Infidelity and a blog on the same topic. He has found that most clients’ recovery is greatly strengthened by deeper emotional connections in relationships.

Their clinic uses Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy to help couples heal the negative cycles that can sabotage such closeness. His greatest reward comes as clients discover that true, deep attachment is “the real deal” that old addictions could never counterfeit.

Jan 21

The Real Secret to a Happy Marriage…and 2 More Marriage Myths Debunked

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Marriage Myths DebunkedFrom the minute a couple gets engaged (and sometimes before), they start hearing marriage myths.

Well-meaning or not, people often give advice that simply isn’t true — whether because of their own experience or because of what others have said to them.

But for couples that are trying to make sense of it all, the conflicting counsel can be confusing.

So with that in mind, here’s a look at three false marriage clichés.

If someone tells you one of these things is true, think twice before you believe it.

Myth #1 – To Have a Happy Marriage, Live Together First

Conventional wisdom these days says cohabitation is a good idea.

By setting up house before the commitment of marriage, the theory goes, couples have a chance to take a test run on what married life could be like. But research shows that living together could actually be a poor choice in terms of finding ultimate marriage success.

“Living together actually gets in the way of the kind of deliberative and conscious decision-making that the commitment of marriage requires,” according to findings cited at Psychology Today. “Previously cohabitating couples ‘slide’ into marriage in largely unexamined ways, accounting for their greater probability of divorce and weaker communication skills.”

An article at TIME Magazine, on the other hand, suggests it’s not living together that is the problem, but living together too soon and too young. “Economist Evelyn Lehrer (University of Illinois at Chicago) says the longer people wait past 23, the more likely a marriage is to stick.”

In either case, the secret to a happy marriage isn’t cohabitation — so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Myth #2 – Women Are the Ones Who Want Romance

It’s a long-held misconception that women are the only ones who want romance, but research shows 33% more men than women around the world say it bothers them that their significant other isn’t more romantic, according to Reader’s Digest.

This finding came as the result of more than 80,000 people around the world being interviewed on love, sex, trust and more.

What does this mean for your marriage?

Never assume only one of you cares about being close — just because society portrays men a certain way, that doesn’t mean it’s true in your relationship.

[PSST…If you want an easy way to be romantic to your wife – or your husband!grab our free Perfect Love Letter Checklist and put it to good use]

Myth #3 – The Secret to a Good Marriage is Luck

A lot of people will say things like marital success is a roll of the dice — you have no way of moving toward or away from a good marriage, but you just take the hand you’re dealt.

In reality though, this isn’t true. Most couples that experience long-term marital bliss will cite commitment and companionship as the crucial factors that keep their marriages working.

They understand that building a solid relationship takes hard work, determination and loyalty.

According to writer David Popenoe at HowStuffWorks.com, “the happiest couples are friends who share lives and are compatible in interests and values.”

Do the three myths listed above sound familiar to you?

Have you heard conventional advice like this and wondered if it were true?

When it comes to marriage, remember not to believe everything you’re told. Every couple is unique, so what’s true for one couple may not be true for another.

But more importantly, just because people are saying something, that doesn’t mean it’s worth taking to heart.

BONUS TIP from Dustin – There’s a Myth #4 that we hear way too often, too.  It’s the idea that “good couples don’t fight” and I can only laugh at that idea.

All couples have disagreements, but the happiest know how to “fight” constructively and stop the escalation of tempers before someone gets hurt emotionally.

I highly recommend you grab this free resource from our friends at ONE Extraordinary Marriage to stop your next argument in its tracks.

It’s so simple and so effective.

John and WendyJohn and Wendy who both have Masters degrees in Clinical Counseling run a crisis marriage counseling practice, Marriage Rescue Associates, and have years of experience dealing with married couples.

They offer everything from counseling to marriage retreats, which attributes to their 90% success rate.

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