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 17

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

By Julie Sibert | General , Sex & Family Planning

 

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

I was struck by how spot on the post was.

I mean seriously.

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

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

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

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

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

What do we do with that irony?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aug 10

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

By Debi Walter | Romance

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

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

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

Well, not to worry.

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

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

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

Reading

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

Writing

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

Arithmetic

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

Recess

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

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

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

Until next time…

Keep Romancing!

(photo)

Aug 06

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

By Dustin | Romance

Practice Makes Passion Possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE.

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

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

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

2. NEVER STOP DATING.

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

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

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

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

3. TREAT MARRIAGE LIKE AN INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO.

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

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

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

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

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

Jul 20

5 Ways to be Sexually Playful While Clothed

By Julie Sibert | Sex & Family Planning

Does sex seem to be the last thing on your mind by the time you both fall into bed at the end of the day?

sexual playfulness in marriageOr maybe it’s the last thing on your spouse’s mind, but you are still hoping for some sexual connection. Yet, you feel way too disconnected!

Hey, I get it.

Life has a way of sabotaging late night encounters.

If you ever feel like you and your beloved are simply trying to keep your head above water (you feel that way sometimes, right?), you are not alone.

Good news!  There are ways to increase the odds of sexual intimacy happening on a more consistent basis.

Sexual play when the lights go out tends to be easier when there’s sexual play while your clothes are on.

Below are 5 ideas for being sexually playful while clothed:

1.  Touch while driving.

I’m not even talking about anything overtly sexual here. I am talking about expressing your sexual desire and affection with simple gestures.

Any one of these will likely get your message across:  Gently put your hand on your spouse’s leg.  Caress the back of their neck.  Softly run your finger just under the the hem on their shorts or the sleeve on their shirt.

If there aren’t kids in the car (or if the kiddos are fast asleep), you can probably get away with more suggestive caressing.

Sure, you have to keep your eyes on the road and stay safe.  But trust me.  A simple touch while driving can speak volumes about your intentions later.

2.  Use suggestive code words and nicknames.

When I was growing up, a childhood friend of mine had parents who occasionally would playfully talk in some sort of “code,” even when we were around.

As children, we obviously didn’t know what they were saying.  We probably even thought it was weird, even though it was obvious the spirit of the “conversation” was playful.

Now as a grown up who is in love with my husband, I think about my childhood friend’s parents and it makes me smile.

They had found a way to connect as husband and wife amidst the busy details of the day.

Who knows what they were talking about with all those secret words and whispers?!  I would bet my last dollar, though, that those innocent exchanges were anything but innocent.

Do you and your spouse have ways to talk about sex playfully without really talking about sex?

My pal J of Hot Holy Humorous wrote a couple of great posts along these lines, including “What Euphemisms Do You Use for Sex?” and “Is He Sweetheart? Stud Muffin? Romantic Nicknames.

3.  Kiss. Really kiss.

There’s just something about an unexpected passionate kiss that is genuine and heartfelt.

When was the last time you kissed your spouse this way when the two of you were not making love?

A spontaneous lingering kiss in the kitchen or before your spouse leaves for work or even as you are putting laundry away can convey that your sexual desire is alive and well.

Sadly, too many married couples stop kissing passionately.

4.  Don’t be afraid to sext.

I wouldn’t recommend this if your spouse has a company-issued cell phone, because obviously that phone is the property of the company and they likely have rules against sexting.

But if you are sending texts to your spouse’s personal phone, you can get creative.  Discretion is the key.

To be super wise about this, you should use code words.  That way, your spouse knows that when you type, “Did I mention we were out of chocolate syrup?,” what you really just said has nothing to do with an ice cream topping.

(Unless, of course, it does having something to do with an ice cream topping). 

Anyway, you get the idea.

When it comes to sexting, less is more.  Say too much too often and the technique loses its arousal factor.

I hope this goes without saying, but don’t send any suggestive photos.  Save all the visuals for the “live-and-in-person” escapades in the exclusivity of your marriage bed.

And obviously, double check that the text is indeed going to your spouse.  Sure, you’re talking in code.  But do you really want your kid’s soccer coach asking if you’re still out of chocolate syrup?!

Awkward.

5. Hold hands.

I know.  This one seems so obvious.  But why don’t we see more married couples holding hands?

Holding hands with the person you fell in love with and pledged your life to is one of the easiest gestures to actually do — but also the easiest to disregard.

When you hold hands with your spouse, whether you are walking to your kid’s ball game or heading into the grocery store, you convey to them that they are still the one you want by your side.

You convey a great message to those around you too, but that’s simply a nice side benefit.  What’s most powerful is the message you are sending to the person you married.

And remember that all hand holding is not created equal.  When you hold hands frequently enough with your spouse, you quickly learn the subtle differences of the type of affection being shown.

You can definitely be sexually playful through holding hands, and no one will know but the two of you!

After reading all of this, do you think there are ways you can be more sexually playful while your clothes are on?

Weave sexual expression into your relationship in a healthy way, and you will better appreciate why making love is so vital.

And for more reading on this topic, check out this post on my site by the same title.

Jul 13

Every Day is a Holiday – Who Knew?

By Debi Walter | Romance

I bet you didn’t know that today is Celebrate Your Geekness Day, did you?

Most likely you didn’t because it’s an unusual holiday invented by people who have too much time on their hands.

But, hey! If you’re a geek, you’re probably thrilled to know there’s a day set aside to celebrate your geekness. 🙂

I love holidays. I love parties. I love celebrating and making my husband smile.

Yes, I’m the hopeless romantic, but I don’t prefer that term. It makes it sound like romance is a negative, when in fact it’s the opposite.

Romance is like a breath of fresh mountain air on a hot, steamy Summer day. It refreshes your relationship in a way nothing else can.

In my years of blogging and writing neighborhood newsletters I’ve discovered there are websites focused on helping you celebrate just about any day of the year in fun and unique ways.

When was the last time you planned something unusual and fun for your spouse? If you can’t remember it’s been too long. There’s nothing like a party for two to help re-ignite the romance in your home.

I challenge you to select a date on the list below and go all out in celebrating the day. Be creative. Be thoughtful, but most of all be romantic!

July

17 – Peach Ice Cream Day – Go out for your favorite or make your own.

20 – National Lollipop Day – Surprise your spouse with a lollipop made of their favorite flavor

20 – Moon Day – Go sky watching after dark while eating moon pies

22 – Hammock Day – If you have a hammock for two, plan some time to do some nothing together.

23 – National Hot Dog Day – Make a hot dog bar for dinner with all the best toppings

26 – All or Nothing Day – Let your imagination go wild with this one, make it a Deal or No Deal game for two.

30 – National Cheesecake Day – Serve this treat after dinner with your favorite toppings

August

3 – National Watermelon Day

7 – National Lighthouse Day – If you live near the coast, plan to visit one and climb to the top. If you don’t, try playing flashlight tag in your house with all the lights off.

9 – Book Lovers Day – Plan a date at a local bookstore and see who can find the oldest publication, the funniest title, the prettiest cover, the most interesting topic, etc.

10 – National S’mores Day – Who needs an explanation on this one. Have fun like kids again!

18 – Bad Poetry Day – Have fun making silly rhymes and texting them to each other.

As you can see there are all sorts of crazy holidays you can celebrate together.

The most important reason to do this is to help keep your relationship from getting predictable and boring. Check out this website to discover more holidays for every month of the year.

Until next time…

Keep romancing!

(photo)

 

 

Jul 06

How to Say Good-bye to Limiting Financial Beliefs

By Kim Hall | Finances & Careers

good bye to limiting financial beliefsPersonal money management has two very important, but unequal, parts.

The how-to is actually only about 20% of the equation, while your behavior holds the overwhelming majority of the control.

The nuts and bolts of the how-to are easy ones to address, but your behavior is a more interesting matter.

Your behavior is guided by your core beliefs: what you value, what is appropriate, what is possible, etc.

As a married couple, that makes handling finances all the more interesting, because you each bring different beliefs to the table.

Core beliefs can help you see a world full of possibility in successful money management, or they can cripple your movement forward.

History is littered with examples of limiting beliefs:

It’s impossible to sail around the world.

There will never be a true flying machine.

Humans cannot run a mile in less than four minutes.

Fortunately, pioneers existed who didn’t share these sentiments.

They broke through the barriers and set new standards of what was possible.

Self-limiting beliefs are psychological barriers that get in your way.

Here are five self-limiting beliefs and examples of how they might show up in your conversations.

Hopelessness.  “There’s just no way to get out from under all the money we owe.”

Helplessness.  “We’ve always been clueless about money management. It’s just too complicated.”

Uselessness.  “It doesn’t matter what we do. There’s always something that sets us back.”

Blamelessness. “It’s not my fault. My parents never taught me. My spouse is the problem.”

Worthlessness.  “We’re just not meant to have enough money. It’s just the way things are.”

There are many other shapes these can take.

Pay attention to the chiding voices in your head and the negative things that roll off your tongue to identify yours.

However, if one or more of these already resonates with you, that’s actually good news.

Being aware of a limiting belief is not much different than realizing your foot aches because there’s a pebble in your shoe.

You aren’t going to be able to achieve a fitness goal, whether walking regularly or becoming a marathoner, until you take care of the pebble.

Similarly, you need to say good-bye to limiting beliefs to clear the way to setting and achieving financial goals.

Saying good-bye to limiting financial beliefs

Identify your self-limiting beliefs about money. Note that these are typically so deeply ingrained you and your spouse treat them as the absolute truth. They are not. Take note of the beliefs above that resonated with you. This is critical because you will remain stuck in an unhealthy financial place until you deal with these obstacles.

Recognize your mind is really, really, attached to these beliefs. Your mind will automatically go in search of evidence to support the beliefs, even when there may be much more evidence to the contrary. 

In Stop Saying You’re Fine! Mel Robbins writes about what happens in your mind when you’ve been stuck, and you begin entertaining some game-changing thoughts.

It’s a constant battle between your game-changer thoughts (lose weight, start a business, find love) that want to upset the current order of your life, and the protective thoughts (I don’t feel like it today, what if I get hurt) that want to preserve order by keeping things the same. Your mind is always scouting all the incoming signs from the outside world, and trying to make predictions about what might happen next, all in order to maintain a high level of safety and a reduced level of risk. When it sees a threat of any kind, it finds a reason to retreat. It’s the wet-blanket theory of motivation. If your mind can kill a great idea by dampening it with emotional turmoil, it will.

Now that you have the tactical advantage of greater awareness, you can take the next step.

Ask quality questions to help bust those beliefs.

Author Jay Arthur shares simple ones:

If you believe “It’s hopeless,” ask “How is it possible?”

If you believe “I’m helpless,” ask “What do I already know about it?”

If you believe “It’s useless,” ask “How is it desirable?”

If you believe “I’m blameless,” ask “How am I responsible?”

If you believe “I’m worthless,” ask “How do I deserve it?”

Pull examples large and small from all parts of your life, not just the financial area. Sometimes your spouse is much better at seeing where you have been successful, so ask each other for input. Be sure to be encouraging, supportive, and open-minded in this conversation. Read stories from and about people who have walked this road before you and have help and hope to share. Dustin has great resources on money and communication, and here’s a Pinterest Board devoted to Debt Freedom stories.

Take action and create new beliefs in their place.

When you look at the list of limiting beliefs, you will see they can all be transformed by gathering more accurate information that contradicts and undermines them.

Hopelessness turns into possibility when you see the ways different families have successfully tackled debt, and you take one or more of those strategies on as your own.

Helplessness is replaced by capability when you learn the simple steps to creating a home budget.

Uselessness changes to purposefulness when you envision how wise financial management is desirable and doable for your family

Blamelessness becomes empowerment when you embrace the satisfaction and growth that responsibility brings.

Worthlessness evolves into value when you realize you are able to not only provide well for your family, but also to help others, too.

With each step you take, every dollar you control, your hope and confidence will grow.

Your belief in yourselves to truly be in charge of your finances will strengthen, and your marriage will be healthier as well.

Comment: Which limiting belief do you struggle with the most?

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!