Monday, January 5, 2015

Marriage: A Top Priority

Is your marriage important to you?  How are you making your marriage a top priority?

We all have lives and responsibilities outside of marriage, so we need to find a balance and prioritize these other commitments to avoid getting too busy to make time for our marriage.  I know for me I’ve got school to worry about and my husband has his job, both of which require huge amounts of our time.  Maybe for you it’s the kids, the house, your career, PTA meetings, Church callings, or an elderly parent?

Marriage isn’t easy.  Though, it’s easy to say that our marriage is important to us and then skip out on date night to put in some extra hours at work or clean the dirty house.  When we value our marriage, but then let ourselves put our spouse on the back burner as we take care of our daily responsibilities isn’t showing that value.      

We take care of things we want to last; marriage is no exception.  Don’t neglect your role as a spouse, instead fulfills it by making simple and small investments in your marriage by: saying “I love you”, kissing & hugging, and making your spouse feel cherished daily. 

Marriage is a lot of work.  If you are not consciously refocusing on your marriage, then things can get in the way and become distractions.  Your thoughts actions must be intentional if you wish to strengthen your marriage.  Otherwise if you forget about making an effort your marriage will slowly decay, because important things untended to will eventually come back to bite you.  Think of your marriage as a living thing; like a plant you must nurture and feed it so that it might grow and bring about blessings.  When you continue to date your spouse after marriage, you increase your chances to maintain those loving feelings that caused you to get married in the first place.

Continuing to date your spouse is a must, assuming you want a lasting marriage.  I think so many people buy into the lie of marrying someone means they should know you love them for life.  This isn’t true and we need to continually reinforce and reassure our spouse that we are there for them no matter what and still love them after all the time that has passed.  Scheduling time for your weekly date night, even if you stay in, is extremely beneficial for your relationship as husband and wife.

I think another lie people buy into is putting the children first.  I recently learned about the divine triangle of marriage and love this system of including God in marriage.  With the divine triangle of marriage our relationship with God is at the top and then comes our relationship with our spouse.  Of course our relationship(s) with our children come second to our relationship with our spouse; this is contrary to what many parents believe.  The truth is that children benefit when parents put their marriage first.  The reason being your marriage is the foundation for your family.  You want to be a healthy example of a marriage for your children, not one that argues in front of them all the time.  Your strong relationship as husband and wife will spill into your relationship(s) with your children. 

Remember you can be a great spouse and be a great parent too!  It just takes some prioritizing, so make sure you don’t put your spouse last!

Make your marriage a priority today so you can enjoy the joys of marriage tomorrow.

-Watch both video clips below and then complete the activity below:


1. Discuss how you can make your marriage a priority with your spouse?

2. Schedule date night for this or the next week, along with plan an activity for that evening.

By Tawnya

Keeping the Attraction Alive in Marriage

My mother told me shortly after my wedding day to continue to dress up and get myself ready for my husband.  I think on that particular day I wasn’t wearing any make up and hadn’t done anything with my hair.  I wasn’t offended by her comment, because that’s just how she’s always been.  I reassured her, I still wore makeup and did my hair, just not every day.  It seemed to be enough for her to back off.

Though, lately I’ve reflected back to what my mother said to conduct a self-check.  I asked myself if I was still dressing up for my husband on occasion and realized that I had cut down a bit from when we were first married.  I wondered if I had let myself become lazy, since I hadn’t even put on a full face of makeup the week prior.  I felt like I had slacked a little bit in this department and so of course the very next morning I applied my makeup and curled my hair before I left the house. 

Why had I stopped trying so hard?  I made sure to always ‘put my face on’ and/or curl my hair for my husband when we were dating, but now there were more days that I hadn’t really tried than there were that I had tried.  I realized that I should be trying harder to keep him interested in me.  I mean I expect the same from him and so he shouldn’t get any less from me. 

Of course I’ve made the effort to maintain my weight, but I would have done that with or without him.  For me watching my weight hasn’t been the issue, but taking the time to apply makeup and do my hair has been.  Though, I know that weight is an issue for many individuals and affecting their spouse’s attraction to them. 

I realize that we should love our spouse unconditionally, but this intentional love doesn’t cover attraction.  Attraction is separate from love and should be intentional on both parts.  Each spouse should do their part to continue to attract their spouse.  Without effort attraction for some couples may slowly fade away.  No one wants that, right?

Keeping our spouse attracted to us should be one our main priorities in life.  By making an effort to make ourselves look presentable we are strengthening our marriage.  Don’t lose sight of what is important to your spouse, because it could mean losing your spouse in the long run.

Recently I heard a marriage therapist retell one of her client’s stories.  She said that the husband asked his wife for a divorce.  The wife was shocked by his confession and requested that they seek counseling first and he agreed.  In counseling after some encouragement he revealed that his reason for divorce was that his wife had gained weight.  He said that he was no longer attracted to her, but that he still loved her.  The wife was relieved to hear this and agreed to lose the weight for her marriage. 

Now this is an extreme example, but if we lose track of what our spouse finds attractive about us then we run the risk of losing our spouse to someone else.  There are definitely some things wrong with this example.  The husband should have told his wife about his problem with her weight.  Fear of hurting a loved one should never stop us from keeping communication open in our marriage.  So another lesson learned: tell your spouse you’re unhappy or no longer satisfied with how they’ve changed, physically or not.  They’re better off knowing and having the option to do something about it and so is your marriage.

Of course there still exist issues with a spouse that are unfair and uncontrollable, but let’s hope that the no longer attracted spouse recognizes they’re being outrageous and works on letting the unjust issue go.  I won’t specify what is unjust, but I’ll leave it up to you and your spouse’s discretion.  What you may find to be a ridiculous desired change in a spouse could be completely different from what I would find ridiculous.

I think that for each spouse keeping the attraction alive in marriage is different.  We each have our own unique thing(s) we struggle with.  It is our choice to bring issues out in the open and work toward improving our marriage.  How do you keep your spouse interested?

Infertility: Physical Intimacy Issues

Taking care of the clinical side of things isn’t the entire solution to many infertile couples’s problems.  There are often emotional issues that arise from trying to conceive aside from the expected medical procedures.  Infertile couples receiving fertility treatments should seek emotional support as needed.

Sexual intimacy is an important part of strong marriages.  It can be difficult to enjoy the physical intimacies of marriage, when couples are solely focusing on conceiving a child.  Sex is meant for more than just bringing life into this world; it is also meant to bond couples and bring them closer to one.  This is why it is so important for infertile couples to continue to view physical intimacy as a way to grow closer during this difficult time.

Don’t let physical intimacy become a source of contention as you deal with and treat infertility.  You will be better able to protect your marriage from these negative feelings as you both:
Communicate your thoughts with your spouse.  If you’re feeling distant from your spouse, then share this with them.  Don’t allow secrets to interfere with your marriage and instead speak your fears and concerns to your spouse.  How can things get fixed, if they both of you are not aware of the problem?  Don’t allow what is bothering you to go unsaid. Issues seem to fester when we don’t address them, so open up to your spouse.  You may fear that they don’t want to hear it or will judge you, but try it and you will find a supportive spouse.  Your spouse is there to support you, so be strong enough to lean on them when it gets difficult.

Keep the date night alive. Remember to place the focus back on your marriage as you work toward expanding your family.  A baby becomes another added stress when married couples don’t care for their relationship first.  So give your future child the chance to thrive with your marriage as the strong foundation.  Continued care to this part of your marriage will likely encourage physical intimacy.

Don’t let your issues define who you are and remember to spend some time on yourself.  Infertility isn’t the end and life goes on for married couples experiencing this medical issue.  Instead identify with your character and qualities rather than your medical condition.  Remember that you are what attracted your spouse in the first place, so don’t lose sight of this.  Being you will keep the attraction alive and again encourage physical intimacy.

Be thankful.  If your current circumstances include having a child already, good job, food on the table, or a roof over your head, then don’t forget to practice gratitude.  Don’t allow yourself to forget about the important people in your life.  Your spouse is important to you right?  So give them 100%.  Based on the law of reciprocity they will likely return your effort by giving the relationship 100% as well. Always find the positives and good in your life; there is so much peace to be offered in doing this.

Make time for the bedroom.  Don’t allow yourselves to forget about the importance of physical intimacy for your marriage.  Life can get busy and might allow us to make excuses for why we haven’t had sex for the past two weeks, but don’t believe them.  Choose a time during the week that works for both of you and allow that time to bring you closer. 

Accept that you might not conceive after having sex, but this doesn’t mean that you can afford to avoid having sex from now on.  The purpose of sex reaches beyond creating life.  Infertility treatments can be rough on individuals and married couples, especially when they are not working according to plan.  You might become frustrated with sex as you continue to be unsuccessful in getting pregnant.  This is the time to remember that sex is important to your marriage, regardless of its ability to create life. 

Focus on pleasure.  Sex doesn’t need to become mechanical when your goal is to bring pleasure to your spouse and yourself.  Give yourself permission to focus on your spouse and not getting pregnant every once in a while.  It may be important to follow certain guidelines when trying to conceive, but it doesn’t need to become an “always” rule.

Focus on your spouse.  Remember how great sex used to make your spouse and you feel.  Make your next move in the bedroom one that places the focus on pleasing your spouse.  Turning sex into a selfless act can increase your own satisfaction, as well as your love for them.  Isn’t that what this physical act of love is all about?  Each spouse takes care of fulfilling the needs of their spouse, so that in the end they both get their needs met.  Focusing on making a baby is nice and all, but redirecting your energy toward sexual intimacy for pleasing your spouse still allows you to conceive.  Remember that people conceive all the time when they are focusing on their spouse.

            If you and your spouse still feel overwhelmed or need a little more help, then seek professional help.  You could try counseling to see if it helps you resolve your physical intimacy issues.


1. Think about how you currently view sex.  Share this view with your spouse.

2. Plan your next romantic evening/date night with your spouse.  Set a time and day this week or next to make it happen.

By Tawnya


No one’s perfect.  We hear this all the time, so why do we still foolishly believe that our spouses need to be perfect themselves?  How do we get to a place of loving our imperfect spouse and marriage?
I think it’s natural for us to judge others while turning a blind eye to our own negative qualities.  In no way do our natural tendencies justify our doing this.

At times when I find myself focusing on my husband’s faults or imperfections I like to remind myself that I’ve got imperfections.  They may not be the same imperfections, but I certainly have them.  I also like to remember why I married him in the first place.  When I think about this I realize that he’s still that same guy and that I just let myself get carried away by something that isn’t that important.  He is what is important and our marriage is important, not some behavior that I’ve labeled a fault or flaw.  Remembering this helps me nag him less and return my focus back to myself.

It is unfair to expect our spouse to change when we are unwilling to change as well.  We need to focus on changing ourselves before we try to change our spouse.  This isn’t to say that spouses shouldn’t change, but that we should begin with ourselves.  A good spouse will follow our lead and feel motivated by our positive changes to make some of their own.  Change takes time and I believe that a willingness or desire and trying are enough temporarily.  This is assuming of course that we are further than we were in the past and continue to move forward, even if it isn’t drastic. 

Don’t get hung up on your spouse’s imperfections!  Don’t they have good qualities as well?  Don’t their positive qualities outweigh or outnumber their bad ones?  If they have good ones, and I must believe they have good ones, then focus on these.  Remember their good qualities when you become stuck on their one bad one.  Be thankful for their good qualities and that they are trying.

I think it can be frustrating to hear only complaints or requests for changes from our spouse.  We want to hear the good, when we feel like we are trying to do good in life and in our marriage.  It can be damaging to a spouse or their relationship if their spouse fails to notice their efforts and continually brings up their faults.  This is why it is important to see the good and show gratitude, as well as communicate it to our spouse.

Accept your spouse.  They may not be perfect, but neither are you.  You married a packaged deal, so learn to take the good with the bad.  Don’t be so quick to assume that you’d be happier if your spouse was the perfect package.  Think about it!  If you had the perfect spouse wouldn’t this make you unhappy because you would know that you are not perfect?  Perfection is a lot to measure up to, so let us be accepting of our spouse’s imperfections.

Be happy with your spouse.  Overall how would you describe your spouse?  Are they a good, decent, and likeable person?  If so and you’re feeling unsatisfied in your choice of a spouse, then you may be in need of some self reflection and an attitude change.  Don’t allow yourself to compare them to other people.  Comparison in marriage is never a good idea.  You either end up feeling superior to other couples or lowering your marital satisfaction, neither is a good result.  

Forgive your spouse.  When your spouse does or says something that might unintentionally offend others choose to not be offended.  How often do you say or do something to your spouse that is misinterpreted or you regret later?  I know that for me it is often.  I’d like to believe that my husband doesn’t hold everything I’ve done wrong against me, so I need to be willing to do the same for him.
Let go of grudges.  Holding grudges will never help you create more joy and happiness in your marriage.  Grudges harm marriages and are in no way romantic, appealing, or attractive, so avoid grudges as often as they come up.

Ultimately, you need to make unconditional love a priority in your marriage.  Love your imperfect spouse!  Don’t put a limit or condition on the love you give your spouse.  Remember your marriage covenants and honor them.  Practice forgiveness, if needed. 

Decide how you will move forward and what you would like to change.  Remember you can only control and change yourself.  So, are you going to worry about your spouse or YOU?


1. Write down what you love about your spouse or why you are thankful for your spouse.  Then share what you’ve written down with your spouse.

2. Write down one of your own imperfections that you would like to change or work on.  Feel free to keep this private or share what you’ve written down with your spouse.  Spend the next week becoming more aware of this imperfection and stopping it from harming your marriage.

By Tawnya

Take an Interest in What Your Spouse Loves

Do the things they love.  Take interest in your spouse’s interests or hobbies.  Doing novel things as a couple is a great way to keep the love alive.

My husband loves four wheeling and his annual trips to the Dunes.  This weekend I went on a trip to the Dunes with my husband and his brother.  He wanted me to go with him and so I said I’d go.

Last year’s Dune trip was miserable, hot, and humid, so I really wasn’t looking forward to going this year.  My desire to be a supportive wife outweighed my desire to stay comfortable, so I went.

I had to sacrifice my time in order to go with him on this trip.  I’m in school right now, so I had to manage my time wisely the days prior to our departure day.  I worked from morning to night doing school assignments the first of the week, just so I could take off the weekend.  It was stressful for me and tiring, but I got it done.  I think it was worth it to sacrifice my weekend and usual school schedule in order to make my husband happy.

I don’t necessarily enjoy riding four wheelers enough to camp out in the dessert, but I do it because it is what my husband enjoys.  I like to see him happy and enjoy watching him have fun on the four wheelers. 

I keep in mind the law of reciprocity during these times.  The way reciprocity works is if I do what he wants now, then he will do what I want later.  This mentality helps me endure all his action packed movies, video games, and favorite dinners. 

Eventually when I want to do something that he doesn’t like, such as watching a romantic comedy or a really girly movie, he will hopefully watch it with me. 

Remember even if we may not love doing something we can still learn to love spending the time with our spouse as they engage in something they love.

So I challenge you to find out what your spouse enjoys doing the most, if you don’t already know and join in them next time, assuming that you’re able to.  Isn’t your spouse worth your time? 

By Tawnya

Differences Can Be Good

I think we are all guilty of expecting our spouse to act or think like us at one time or another.  I know that I am.  I often forget that my husband grew up differently than I did.  I also forget that our life experiences that shape us are even different.  Logically, there is no way that my husband will experience the same event the same way I will.  His and my separate experiences in our lives prevent this. 

I often wonder why I make these assumptions about him and others.  Maybe, it’s a control issues, but that’s entirely different concern.

After reading a little from Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus I have gathered an entirely new insight on the differences between men and women.  The book pointed out that the best way to deal with the natural conflicts that arise in marriages, due to the opposites of the sexes, is to respect these differences. 

What a simple answer, but difficult one to implement.  At least for myself, I find it a little difficult to remember that our differences are a good thing.  I think it’s due to my na├»ve desire for my husband to be like me.  Really it makes complete sense to respect these obvious and not so obvious differences, so that conflict becomes manageable instead of overwhelming and confusing.

So what are some common differences among men and women that might affect marriage? 

I think a BIG one is that men on average want to fix things.  If there’s a problem men tend to pride themselves in figuring out a solution.  Women on the other hand, on average, like to nurture and improve others.  If someone’s experiencing a problem, women tend to listen to their problem to help them.

One situation that explains this difference is: a wife complains to her husband that she had the worst day at work today; the husband might tell her to quit or find a better job.  The wife doesn’t want to quit and likes her job for the most part, so she ignores either response.  She actually felt better after saying her thoughts aloud.  The husband might feel the opposite way after his wife ignores his advice and feel a bit worse than before. 

The breakdown of this scenario is that women on average like to talk their problems aloud to help them feel better.  The wife really only wanted her husband to listen to her and empathize as she complained.  Men like to feel needed, respected, and trusted, so when this husband offered advice his wives rejection and ignoring of his advice hurt his feelings. 

The problem being that the husband assumed that his wife wanted a solution to her problem, when really all she wanted was him to hear her out and support her.  The solution would be that the husband just listen to his wife complain and agree that it sounds like the worst. 

The difference in men and women speaking their problems is that men on average want advice and women want to be listened to.  The husband assumed that his wife, a woman, wanted what he did, a man. 

An alternate situation might involve: the husband coming home from work giving his wife a quick kiss and going straight to the couch to watch some TV.  The stay at home wife follows her husband to the couch and asks him how his day went.  He tells her it was okay, but he knows that it was a stressful day.  His short answer isn’t enough for her, because she can sense that he’s upset.  She asks further to find out why he is upset, but he reassures her that he’s okay.  She then proceeds to tell him that he should tell her, so that he can feel better.  He remains silent.  At this point she is a little upset that he doesn’t want to talk to her, when she has been waiting for him to get home so that she could talk to him.

The breakdown of this scenario is that men on average like to keep their struggles to themselves, unless assistance is needed.  This is the opposite for women, who share their struggles with others and are open to their input.  On average, women feel better after talking about it and men feel better after pondering about their problem or forgetting it by distracting themselves with something else.  For this example the husband watched TV to forget about his stressful day at work and needed sometime alone to feel better.

The problem is that the wife assumed that her husband would feel better if he just opened up and started talking about it.  Along with giving him advice, when he didn’t ask for it.  Her advice made him feel incompetent and it wasn’t what he wanted. She just wanted to have a conversation with him when he got home and for him to tell her what was wrong.  He on the other hand preferred to keep inside and handle it on his own, since he knew how.  The wife was upset with her husband for doing something that is a natural process for men.

The difference again comes down to women on average feeling better once they’ve spoken what bothered them and men feeling better after they’ve cooled down through distraction or thinking things through in their mind.  On average men keep it in and women prefer to let it out. Men also don’t appreciate suggestions when they haven’t asked for them, because they like to feel like they can figure it out and do it on their own.

If we could only remember these differences the next time we find ourselves getting upset when our spouse does something different from what we would have done.  We could save ourselves and our marriage a world of frustration and hurt feelings.  Aside from understanding these differences we need to respect them. 

We need to appreciate the innate differences between men and women; these differences complement one another when the timing is right. 

Ultimately we need to expect these differences to come up and correct our thinking.  Before we start thinking that there is something wrong with ourselves or our spouse lets first determine if it could be due to differences.  Remember that your spouse and you think, act, and want differently and that this is the way it is meant to be.  Try and communicate what you want from your spouse, especially when you feel like they are not responding in a manner that you want.  Bringing these differences to their attention from the get go can help you achieve the results you want that much quicker.  Lastly, keep in mind that your spouse’s efforts, effective or not, are good intentions.

My suggestion to Husbands is the next time your wife is sharing her problem with you ask her, “Do you want my empathetic response?” or “Do you want my advice?”  It sounds dumb, but at least you can catch yourself before you respond to her the way you would expect to respond and be wrong – or- meet her need to be listened to.

My suggestion to Wives is the next time you feel like offering advice ask your husband, “Do you want my advice?” This way you don’t make him feel incompetent.  If you want to nurture him, and then possibly ask him, “Do you want my empathetic response?”, so that he has the option to just think about it on his own terms and in his own way to meet his need to be independent.

*For more information on this subject check out Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.


With your spouse practice saying the following question, “Would you like me to listen right now or are you looking for possible solutions?”

By Tawnya

Infertility: Adoption

It is natural to desire children of your own or to have your child naturally, but infertility sometimes times prevents this desire from becoming reality.  Fertility treatments often reverse this otherwise reality in married couples and they become parents.  Still, some married couples receiving fertility treatments do not experience success and remain childless.  These married couples must decide to accept they will not be parents or they will find an alternative to be parents.

For many married couples that alternative is adoption.  Though, adoption may not be an easy decision for some married couples, it often becomes the choice once they realize their desire to be parents is stronger than their desire to be pregnant or have a child of their own. 

Once married couples have gone through the five stages of grief, which are Stage 1: Denial, Stage 2: Anger, Stage 3: Bargaining, Stage 4: Sadness and Stage 5: Acceptance, they are ready to pursue adoption.  This isn’t to say that all married couples will go through the stages in order or repeat any stages.  It is also normal for each spouse to experience these stages separate from one another and at different times and degrees.

Both husband and wife should be at the acceptance stage before they move forward with the adoption process.  It is possible and likely that both spouses will not be on the same page at the same time.  For example, the husband may need a little more time to warm up to the idea when the wife is ready or vice versa.  If one spouse is for adoption and the other is against or has their doubts about it, then a conflict may result in the marriage.  This is why it is important that both husband and wife have open conversations regarding adoption.  It will definitely do more harm to a marriage to pursue the adoption process if one spouse feels pressured to move forward on this path.  In these cases time, love, and prayer are the best medicine.

Once married couples are ready to expand their family through adoption they should prepare themselves for the challenges of the adoption process.

Let me reassure you that YOU can love a non-biological child as much as a biological child.  A common question that people ask themselves concerning adoption is “Will I love my adopted child as much as I would my biological child?”  It may not be easy to imagine, but yes you will!  Love grows from attachment and bonding.  You become attached and bond with your children as you care for them.  You develop an attachment and bond with your baby each time you hold, kiss, feed, change, rock, and bathe them.  If you still doubt, then ask adoptive couples how they feel about their adopted child.  You are certain to confirm the same message.

You may experience doubts along the way as you transition toward parenthood.  My advice to you, like with anything that you don’t feel ready for, is practice faith and search out the answers that will extinguish these doubts.

Come up with an adoption budget.  Even with adoption tax credits adopting a child can be expensive. Deciding with your spouse how much you are willing to spend on the adoption process is a must to avoid financial problems from disrupting your marriage.

Tell your family and friends about your joint decision to adopt.  This type of word of mouth sometimes can create adoption leads and opportunities.  Enjoy the congratulations from family and friends as you share your good news, together.

            Agree on what type of adoption, including: Domestic adoption, International adoption, Foster care adoption, Private adoption, and Independent adoption.   Depending on your family budget you may be more in favor of one over another, since costs can range from $1,000 to $50,000 for these types of adoptions.  Up until recently I had always thought about adopting an infant from a third world country, but after looking at the average prices to adopt I am now thinking about doing a foster adoption instead.  Also, consider the age of the child you both are willing to adopt as you choose the type of adoption to pursue; the ages of the available children may differ according to the type of adoption.

Together with your spouse choose an agency to pursue the adoption with.  It is best to research different agencies and decide on one rather than use multiple agencies.  This can save married couples a huge amount of stress in the long run.

Decide together with your spouse whether or not you want a closed or open adoption.  Each offers its own benefits and drawbacks.  A closed adoption allows for privacy, but doesn’t make it easy for an adult adopted child to contact their birth parents.  An open adoption allows the sharing of birth parent health information. It also allows birth parents the opportunity to either visit or get pictures and letters about their child, so that they still are in some small way involved in their child’s life; this could be a good or bad thing depending on perspectives of what crossing the boundaries is.  Both spouses need to feel comfortable with the type of adoption they pursue.

            Gaining approval to adopt is quite the process.  Married couples should find out about any guidelines that they should follow prior to starting the process.  Both husbands and wives need to be prepared for the lack of privacy they will experience along the way.  They should also take into account the amount of time and effort they will spend on required paperwork, home visits, fingerprints, and background checks.

            Focus on the family you wish to have as you continue the adoption process.  It will be trying at times, but if you ask couples who’ve already adopted you will find that they feel their adopted child was worth it. 

Most importantly keep the faith during the adoption process, trusting that someday you will hold your future family member in your arms.


-Together with your spouse, please watch the video on ‘Choosing Adoption’ from the following webpage:

By Tawnya