Monday, December 15, 2014

HOPE for Your Marriage

Statistics show that half of all marriages will end in divorce, but you and I are more than a number.  These figures do not predict the length or satisfaction of your marriage in any way.  I think it’s important to remember this when it comes to viewing our marriage.  Better yet, ignore the statistics if they are negatively affecting your marriage.  I suppose a little worrying about not becoming one of the couples who divorce can be healthy, but we should not allow this disappointing statistic to shadow our own marriage.
I respect marriage and regard it highly.  I do not take my marriage lightly, nor do I view divorce lightly.  I chose my husband based on our shared values and this reassured me of our lifelong commitment to one another through the ups and downs.  I’m aware of the fact that marriage is hard work and I fully intend on giving my marriage my all; it is my priority above all else.  I also don’t accept divorce as a solution for my marital challenges; I believe that divorce should be avoided, if at all possible. 
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that divorce serves a purpose.  I believe that divorce should be available to individuals in dangerous and toxic marriages.  Staying in an unhealthy marriage for the sake of the kids is never the right reason, but this doesn’t mean that couples in unhealthy marriages can’t work out their issues.  There are married couples who bail on their marriage too soon and it’s difficult to believe that the majority of divorces are justified.  Especially since our government has made it so easy for couples to divorce.  I feel divorce has become all too common in our society.  It’s becoming increasingly popular for couples to call it quits and broken homes are becoming the norm for many families.  What’s even more saddening is that many divorces are later regretted by individuals and that these dissolved unions might have been restored.  Dr. William H. Doherty found,“… that a significant number of divorced individuals—maybe about half—report to researchers that they wished they or their ex-spouse had tried harder to work through their differences.”  This supports the idea that HOPE applied to marriage can keep it alive and strengthen it over time.
Unhappy married individuals don’t have to settle for an unhappy marriage, nor do they need to resort to divorce.  There is HOPE for these struggling married couples!
If you’re feeling like you’re headed for the door, then seek help.  Help is out there and readily available.  Don’t wait until you feel ready, instead act now.  You may never feel ready, especially if you’ve got a negative attitude or are waiting on your spouse.  Take the initiative and start today! 
If you’ve fallen out of love:
Falling out of love doesn’t happen over night; it’s something that happens over time, so don’t wait until problems show up and work on your marriage daily.  Take some time to remember what made you fall for your spouse in the beginning and do the things that might recreate the attraction.  Go out on a date weekly to reconnect with your spouse.  Laugh together, smile at one another, hold hands, and kiss to get back to that loving feeling.  The lack of desire to do these things is not an excuse to avoid trying these repair attempts, so act now and think later.
If you’ve lost hope:
Believing your marriage is a lost cause is never helpful.  Remember that marriage unites two imperfect individuals, who invite the “bad” into the marriage. Marriage is about accepting the “good” with this perceived “bad”.  It is a commitment for life.  If you’re still living, then begin recommitting yourself to your spouse. 
Might I remind you that you once promised to stick it out, “… for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health.”  When you’re feeling like right now is your future marriage is the time to rethink this low point in your marriage as temporary.  This will help you realize that your marriage is not lost! 
One of my favorite songs is called Restore.  It is a song about restoring struggling marriages and I believe it is the perfect message for couples everywhere, even though it targets Christian couples.  I think we all could use a little divine intervention in our lives.  This is especially true when it comes to our marriage.  Do not forget the power of prayer when it comes to softening your spouse’s heart or gaining strength.  Pray for your spouse as well as your marriage. 
Marriage is meant to last and though you may be experiencing the “bad” at the moment, remember that the “good” is still ahead.  When it gets bad enough that divorce seems like the only option, have a little HOPE.  Have HOPE that you and your spouse will get through the “bad” together and continue fighting for your marriage. 
You can have a better marriage, but it will take change on your part as well your spouse’s.  It will require a lot of teamwork and sacrifice, but the payoff will positively affect your marriage.  Have HOPE that things will get better!

*Please watch the following video clip and then complete the activity below with your spouse.
Fireproof clip (the back story is their marriage is on the rocks; the husband shows his wife there is HOPE)
1. Write down how you can recommit yourself to your spouse and your marriage.  Share this with your spouse.

2. Write about a time when things were “bad” in your marriage that turned “good”.  What was the process? (timeline the events leading up to the “bad” and “good”)
By Tawnya

It’s a Date!

Dating shouldn’t stop once we’re married.  We’ve all heard this before I’m sure.  That is why I encourage you to make a goal to go out on weekly dates; its good advice after all.  I’ve been trying to keep date night a priority in my own marriage and can definitely see its positive effects in my own marriage.  My husband and I just recently found out that we’re pregnant and so we definitely are attempting to take advantage of the free time we have as a couple right now.  Once children are in the picture date night can become more important, but also more difficult to pull off.  Though, I will leave that topic for a future blog devoted to married couples with children.

Let’s first define what will pass as a date.

A date in this case refers to a meeting time for married couples to have time away from others.  Time away from others can mean that you are staying in or going out.  If the kids are in bed and it’s just you and your spouse watching a movie downstairs I’d say that counts.  Other exceptions might include double or group dates, of course with equal partners present.  The main focus should remain your spouse and relationship during these dates.

Here are a few things  to keep in mind when planning a date:

Novel date activities and dinners are important.  According to an online book called The Date night Opportunity, “… research suggests that couples who engage in novel activities that are fun, active, or otherwise arousing—from hiking to dancing to travel to card games—enjoy higher levels of relationship quality” (Dew & Wilcox 2012).  When couples enter a routine life together a spontaneous date and new or innovative date activity can chuck the predictability of their relationships out of the window.  It can be easy to just go out to dinner and a movie every Friday night with the spouse.  This doesn’t necessarily cut it for many couples, who might find this usual and repeated date itinerary to be boring.  The best cure for this boring date night set up is to deviate from the normal or usual.  Instead go do sometime more active or interactive together, such as going on a hike, volunteering at a local shelter, seeing a comedy show or concert.

Over time the butterfly feelings we get when we see or are with our spouse may decline, but you can put the spark back in your marriage as you try new things and create new experiences with your spouse.  If you’re feeling like the passion and romance is gone, then rekindle the romance in your marriage this week with a fun and exciting date you both can agree on.

Also remember to take turns and choose activities or restaurants that each you and your spouse would like to try and do.  Maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to try; why not cross it off your list and share that experience with your spouse on a date.

Remember date night doesn’t have to break the bank and there are plenty of ideas out there for those on a budget.  If you’re in need of some ideas that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, try searching cheap date ideas online or on Pinterest.   With this being said, a lack of money is no excuse to avoid being creative when it comes to weekly date night.  Of course dates don’t necessarily need to be at night each week and in fact going out for breakfast or an early hike can be novel enough for couples.  If going out for lunch and an afternoon walk is out of norm for you and your spouse, then try it out for yourselves.

The consequence of not prioritizing weekly dates is that your marriage will feel the effects and your spouse will sense your lack of commitment.  This is why it is so important to make an effort to keep weekly dates happening each week.  Life is full of so many distractions and you can get busy very easily if you are not making time for quality time with your spouse.  Don’t let the busyness of life stop you from keeping date night alive after your married!

If you’re looking for an even bigger challenge, then I suggest taking quarterly getaways with your spouse.

For more information about The Date night Opportunity check out: 

*Please watch the following clip and then complete the activity below with your spouse:


1. List the best date you’ve ever been on.  (Try and keep it to the dates you’ve been on with your spouse)

2. List a dream date you would like to go on with your spouse.  (Please list and activity or a restaurant you’d like to try)

3. Plan a date for later this week to go on with your spouse.  Write it down on a piece of paper and then put it in a hat or bowl, along with your spouses.  Decide who will pull from the hat and then pull one of the pieces of paper out and make it happen by the end of the week.

By Tawnya

Friday, December 12, 2014

Married Life: Dating with Children

Life is busy enough without throwing dependent children into the mix.  Weekly date night can be difficult for married couples in general, but the task can prove even more difficult when you have children.  Though, it should be one of your highest priorities to spend some alone time with your spouse.  Now date night doesn’t have to be something extravagant every week, but it also shouldn’t remain a last minute thing where you end up doing dinner and a movie week after week.
Remember that weekly date night is encouraged, though don’t punish yourselves if you miss a week every once and a while.  It’s also okay to spend a night in every once in a while; maybe the babysitter canceled and so once the kids are in bed you have a movie night date with your spouse.  Date night doesn’t necessarily mean that dates need to occur at night, because you control when they happen.  If you choose to go on a morning hike and go out for breakfast with your spouse, then that counts as your weekly date.

The main goal is to spend time away from the kids and quality time together, as husband and wife.  The second goal is to do novel things with one another.  This means don’t do the same thing each week, because that can get boring; you should deviate from the normal or usual often.  So go out and do sometime more active or interactive together, such as hiking, volunteering at a local shelter, seeing a comedy show, or attending a concert. 
Novel date activities and dinners are important.  According to an online book called The Date night Opportunity, “… research suggests that couples who engage in novel activities that are fun, active, or otherwise arousing—from hiking to dancing to travel to card games—enjoy higher levels of relationship quality” (Dew & Wilcox 2012).  When couples enter a routine life together a spontaneous date and new or innovative date activity can chuck the predictability of their relationships out of the window.  Seeing your spouse have fun, smile, and laugh may just be what it takes to bring that spark back to your marriage. 

Take turns eating and doing what your spouse wants.  Dates shouldn’t be his or her sole responsibility, but should become both your responsibility.  Going out on a date every week is a lot of responsibility, especially for one person.  It can be overwhelming to feel the pressure of making sure that your spouse is having fun, because you’re the only one in charge of planning.  Share the responsibility of planning a weekly date with your spouse.  After all you should both have a say in what you do and experience what your spouse enjoys.
Are you still not convinced about the importance of continuing to date your spouse after marriage?  Then listen up!
The Date night Opportunity has provided the answer as to why, “… the experience of becoming a parent can undercut or diminish the quality of married life”.  Though, it is normal for couples to spend less time together after having children, what if these additional demands of your time as a parent didn’t have to affect your marital satisfaction?  The Date night Opportunity has found, “… that new parents who did not reduce their couple time together after the arrival of a baby were markedly less likely to experience a decline in marital quality”.  This is also why it is so important for married couples, especially those with children, to make weekly date night a priority.  Avoiding doing so will likely slowly over time harm your marriage.  Don’t allow couple time or dating after marriage and children to become a thing of the past.
Remember that the time you spend with your spouse will spill into your relationships with your children.  Your children will be blessed as you make and take the time to go on weekly dates.  Too many parents believe that the more time they spend on their children the better off they will be.  This isn’t so, if parents are not making their marriage a priority.  Weekly dates with your spouse is one of the best ways to make your marriage a priority, so an even better incentive to continue to date your spouse.
Parenthood isn’t easy and neither is marriage, but both are manageable if couples continually bring the focus back to their relationship.  Life may be full of distractions, but it’s up to you to prioritize your spouse.  Don’t let the busyness of parenthood stop you from keeping date night alive in your marriage!

*For more information about The Date night Opportunity check out:
Please watch the following video clip and then complete the activity below with your spouse:


1. List your current priorities in life in order of importance to least importance.  Go over your list with your spouse.  Then discuss and make any changes, if needed.

2. Write down your dream date with your spouse, and then share what you wrote with your spouse.

3. Together plan your next date for this week.  If you need help then try cheap date ideas.

By Tawnya

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Team: Husband & Wife

We’ve all been on a team at one point in our life or another.  Remember back to that time.  What made your team effective or ineffective?  These same principles apply to healthy and effective marriages.

Each marriage team equates to one husband and one wife.  Marriage after all is about the two of us, three if you included God.  I highly recommend that you include God in your marriage.  Developing and maintaining a relationship with God will help you treat your spouse the way you promised to treat them on your wedding day.  If you keep communication open with God, then he will bless you with comfort and strength; both are needed if you want to have a lasting marriage.

Aside from our relationship with God we as married women and men have our relationship with our spouse to develop and maintain.  This requires that we, as husband and wife, make our decisions as a team, working together rather than against one another.  If the decision affects more than just you, then ask yourself what will help ‘our’ marriage, not me individually. 

You’re a team, right?  You both have to make individual contributions in order for the team to win.  You have to split your shared responsibilities equally for that winning marriage you’ve always dreamed of.  The division of relationship needs, household chores, childcare, and workplace responsibilities need to be satisfactory to both husband and wife.

Your marriage goals should also be satisfactory to the team and be defined together, so that you both are reaching for the same thing.  There are often times that I feel like I’m giving my all to my marriage, but don’t feel like my efforts are being reciprocated.  I’m so wrapped up in what I think our marriage needs that I don’t even consider involving my husband in what I’m doing.  This one sided thought process hasn’t ever done me any good.  It only reminds me that I need to ask my husband what he needs from me, so that I can feel like I’m making a difference.

You make a difference the most when you support your spouse during their time of need.  Your spousal support can make the biggest impact when your spouse feels like you’ve got their back when they’re feeling like it’s them against the world.  It is your responsibility as their spouse to believe in them and help them fulfill their good desires and dreams. 

You also make a difference just being you, since you as husband and wife complement one another.  Your individual and gender differences bless your marriage. Like with any team, its teammates are unique and have different strengths and fulfill different responsibilities.  For example, my husband is calmer than me and he is highly educated.  His strengths allow him to comfort me and calm my nerves when I’m stressing out and be the breadwinner for our future family.  I, on the other hand, am financially savvy and naturally good with little children.  This makes it easy to stick to our budget and hopefully be a good fit as a stay at home mother someday.

Team up with your spouse the next time you’re tempted to go at it alone.  Remember that you’re in this thing together and that your level of commitment can either strengthen or damage your marriage.  Choose your team over your selfish desires each and every time.  If you include teamwork in your marriage, then you can overcome life’s challenges together.

*Please watch the following short-video clip and then complete the activity below with your spouse:


1. How do you and your spouse work as a team in resolving conflicts?
2. What sports team would you say describes your marriage? And why?

By Tawnya