Ep. 21: Part 4 – How to L.O.V.E. your Way Through Conflict

Ep. 21: Part 4 – How to L.O.V.E. your Way Through Conflict

Expedition Marriage with Chris & Jamie Bailey
Ep. 21: Part 4 – How to L.O.V.E. your Way Through Conflict
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This episode was the final episode in the 4 part series on How to L.O.V.E. Your Way through Conflict. On today’s episode we talked about evaluating the interests of both you and your spouse so you can achieve a win/win in your marriage.

Having a win/win marriage is being able to ask your spouse what their win is in addition to just seeking your own. You may or may not realize that when you fight to win, you’re also fighting to make your spouse lose.

There are three ways you can achieve a win/win marriage:

  • Common solution where you both win
  • Compromise where you both give a little for the win
  • Sacrifice where one of you willingly gives so your marriage can win

Getting to a win for your marriage requires working the problem backwards. Determine what the win is first and then figure out how to get there through communicating by using the other L.O.V.E. components like listening, observing the effects of your spouse, and valuing and validating them. Ask them their win, share with them yours, and then determine your marriage win.

5 Ways to Boost your Marriage

5 Ways to Boost your Marriage

Many years ago, when I was a stay at home mom raising three little girls, it was safe to say that I was tired, busy and distracted. At the end of the day when my husband came home it was game on! You know the game, it’s called “Tag! You’re it!”

Let’s just say that one of us liked to play more than the other.

The problem was that I was drained, but the bigger problem was that my husband was, too. Truthfully, it’s not uncommon for couples to get into the “let me tell you why my job is harder” battle. But really, you’re both entitled to claim hard work, so that battle is very unnecessary.

Those were hard days during our marriage because we were both pouring out into other areas and people so much that we barely had anything left for one another. We were also silly to think that it would all be miraculously better once the girls got bigger. Ha, jokes on us. In married life, the red carpet of time and energy is never rolled out for you.

BUT—that’s okay, because we all have brief moments and even those brief moments add up. In fact, any investment you make in your marriage pays back in dividends. 

Here are some sure-fire ways to give your marriage the boost that it needs.

5 things you can do to re-connect in your marriage

1. Talk to your spouse. 

Greet them when you see each other again after time apart. Ask open ended questions about their day. Ask them about their highs or lows of the day. Give them a chance to share and vent to you. Let them know you’re interested in hearing from them.

2. Enjoy something pleasurable together

No, not that—but also, yes, that. It’s just not what I’m talking about right now. I’m talking about sitting down and sharing some dessert, playing a quick game, drinking some tea on the porch together, or watching a half hour comedy. Take small pockets of time and find some fun.

3. Set your mind on them.

You may not have an abundance of time, but you have 10 minutes a day. Take a moment and spend those minutes intentionally thinking about your spouse. What is it you love about them, what are thing as you want to do in the future with them? Remember what your dreams and goals are as a couple. Thoughts are powerful, make sure you’re using some of them on your spouse. 

4. Be sacrificial. 

Jesus could have modeled love for us any way he wanted, however, the path God chose was through sacrifice. His sacrifice on the cross is what declared His love for us. The least we can do in our marriage for the one He gave us is to give them our time, our patience, and some extra above and beyond effort by doing something that can make their day, their tasks, their stress a little bit lighter.   

5. Be attentive to their needs.

We know you have needs as a spouse too, but what we also know is that your needs are more likely to get met when you’re willing to meet your spouse’s needs. Now, that’s not the reason to pay attention to their needs, it’s just a good byproduct of doing so. 

Lean in and ask your spouse if they need anything. Ask them how they’re feeling, if they’re ok or if they have any stressors going on. Everyone wants to be checked in on and cared about. 

Ultimately, your marriage will go through hills and valleys seasons, and that’s just the reality of life. If you’re ready to really start boosting your marriage go get our free 10 Day, Just Because I Love You Challenge.

4 Ways to Know if Your Marriage Needs Counseling

4 Ways to Know if Your Marriage Needs Counseling

First things first, can we just go ahead and put to rest all the stigma that comes with counseling? It’s truly just nonsense. We don’t shame our children for needing to go to school to get educated, we don’t shame the person with a broken leg who goes to the orthopedic, nor do we shame the person on the side of the road who calls a mechanic.  As far as we’re concerned, people who seek help for areas where they’re not the expert and they need some help, are people full of wisdom. You’re not failing if you need help, it’s actually the opposite. You choose failure when you need help and DON’T get it. Seeking help is what successful people do!

Ok, can someone slide this soap box out of the way now, I’m done?!

Now that that is cleared up, here are just a few signs that your marriage could benefit from some counseling:

You have a lack of satisfaction. Did you know on average a couple will struggle in their marriage for 6 years before they seek help? Yikes! Don’t be that couple. If you’re living as roommates, rarely have conversations, or have a life focused entirely on the kids, this is NOT a fulfilling marriage and you shouldn’t be settling for it. There’s hope and fulfillment for BOTH of you to be found. 

Another big clue you might need some help is if divorce has been brought up, especially if either of you already come from a broken home. You have an enemy who is after your marriage and would want nothing more than to keep a painful legacy of division going in your family (see John 10:10). Don’t allow any thoughts about divorce to take root.

You also don’t want to let stress, trauma, or difficult situations take you down. Those things that creep into your marriage that are often beyond your control can wreak havoc over time if left unattended. This is a great time to hit pause, get some guidance, and quickly get back on the road to a healthy marriage.

Finally, the more obvious one, if there is any form of addiction. We live in a time where pornography and alcohol have become very popular coping mechanisms. The most common reason they are both turned to, aside from early exposure or something that was already brought into the marriage, is stress. They both provide quick relief and avoidance. Short term fixes with long term loss for your marriage and the spouse who is struggling. If addiction has entered your marriage, even if you have to go alone, get the help. Let a professional help guide you through this season of struggle.

If you want to hear from us a bit more and learn 4 more reasons that might mean you need some help, go check out our video on 8 Ways to Identify if Your Marriage Needs Counseling.

How to Handle Stress in Marriage

How to Handle Stress in Marriage

There was a season in our lives as a young married couple where we were living off of high stress. We were young, had two kids, mediocre paying jobs, and I was pregnant with our third daughter and suffering greatly from yet another round of hyperemesis—which is basically the only thing I have in common with Kate Middleton. Our funds were pretty much non-existent as I could no longer work, we had no help with childcare as I lie in bed with an IV pole, and my husband was frantic in search for help while he took care of me, the kids, and oh, did I mention we were in the middle of a remodel, too? 

STRESS

Sometimes  there’s just no escaping stressful seasons, but when we they do come, it’s important to minimize your stress as quickly as you can before it starts causing relationship problems—because stress and marriage just aren’t the best of pals. When stress does hit your marriage, here are some things you can do:

Identify the stress. Is the stressful situation beyond your control, like an illness, job loss, or accident? Or, is it from a family or marriage situation that you’re not dealing with? Perhaps it’s from remaining in a career that you despise?  The first step is to identify where the stressors come from and determine if you indeed can do anything about them. 

When it’s unavoidable stress, it’s time to lean on each other. This is the time to come together as a team. Instead of allowing stress to divide you, allow it to shift your mindset into “it’s me and you against the problem.” Talk openly and honestly about how the stress is affecting you. Ask one another how you can help alleviate each other’s stress. If the stressor is just affecting one of you, the same rule applies. Go to battle against the stress for and with your spouse. You are one another’s greatest resource—don’t let stress tell you otherwise.

Along the way you also want to make time for fun. Don’t forget to enjoy one another during difficult times. You need the endorphins and natural stress relievers of laughter. Life gets out of balance really quickly when the scale is always weighed down with just stress. Plan nightly walks, have a family game night, watch a funny movie or just go out for ice cream. Don’t forget to have fun, even if it comes in short bursts. You need the connection that stems from laughing together.

Lastly, don’t forget to pray. God is in the stress battle with you. Stressed out is not the abundant life He has called you to live. It’s not all going to blissful, but you have been equipped to handle those hard times and to not lose hope. Never forget that you are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” Romans 8:37.

If you want to dive deeper into tackling the stress in your marriage, check out our video resource on 4 Ways to Thrive When Hard Times Hit Your Marriage.

How to Make Couple’s Devotions Really Happen

How to Make Couple’s Devotions Really Happen

If you’re like most Christian couples, bringing God into the center of your marriage is important to you, but making that happen can be difficult. First of all, know that you’re not alone. We’re professional Christian counselors and it can be hard for us too. Just like any good thing, it will require work and intentionality, BUT, let’s also not forget that we have an enemy who is finding great pleasure in our busyness, chaos and fatigue. Jesus is here to offer us an abundant life, but there’s also a thief who is here to steal, kill and destroy it (John 10:10). 

In order to not let the Enemy take away what Jesus came to give us, we have to develop a little tenacity when it comes to protecting our time and the things that are important to us, like the establishment of doing a couple’s devotional together. Opening up God’s word to grow as a couple will almost always have opposition. Here are some practical tips you can use to actually make this God sized marriage goal come to fruition.

For starters, be committed. Decide together that it is important to you both, and that your marriage is worth investing in. It’s amazing how many other things we invest in that don’t pay back even close to the same dividends. Like most of you, I enjoy a good Instagram scroll, but I can’t tell you the last time it’s given me back anything.

Next, schedule it—take an honest look at your schedule and put it in your calendar during a day and time each week that works for you. A lot of couples, including us, go with a Sunday evening. It’s a good time to spend together and prepare for the week ahead. Nothing will start your week better than time in God’s word together.

Lastly, if you want to make it easier to do, it helps if you make it fun. Grab your devotional, we highly recommend ours, the Newlywed Couple’s Devotional, for all newlyweds and newlywed wanna-be’s, and make a special dessert, enjoy a cup of coffee, or if you’re able, go sit at a place you enjoy, like your front porch, a coffee shop, or make it an early relaxing night in the bed.

Over time, you might actually find that this time together discussing God’s word, hearing stories of other couples, learning practical marriage tips, answering real purposeful questions together, and then closing it all in prayer, is exactly what your marriage needs and what your heart begins to crave.

Make the decision to invest in your marriage, check your calendars, and then head on over and grab a copy of the Newlywed Couple’s Devotional. You’ll be glad you did!

26 Ways to Make Date Nights as Easy as ABC

26 Ways to Make Date Nights as Easy as ABC

Isn’t it amazing to think of how easy it used to be to squeeze in a date night? In fact, can you believe that there was once a time where that’s literally almost all you did together? But, if you think of what dating provided for you way back then, you’d quickly discover why it’s SO important to keep those date nights alive.

Dating helped you establish your friendship, it helped you discover both of your likes and dislikes, and it likely provided a lot of laughter too. All the things that bonded you as a couple back then, can still bond you together as a married couple now. That’s why date nights are so necessary.

But we totally understand if you’re running out of ideas, so we’d love to help you with that. No matter how busy life gets, with just a little bit of effort, we truly believe date nights can be as easy as the ABCs, and here’s the proof….

A. Adventurous Eats- Go out for food you haven’t eaten before

B. Bike riding, explore your neighborhood or find a new place

C. Chalk drawing encouraging messages on sidewalks for strangers

D. Dessert and Dancing at home

E. Escape room. Grab some friends and take on the challenge

F. Fishing. Farmers Market or Food Truck

G. Game night at home or with friends

H. Horseback riding. Hammocks at the park. Hiking.

I. Ice cream sundaes. Go all out!

J. Journey through old photo albums

K. Kite flying. Karaoke.

L. Live music. Learn a new skill.

M. Massages at home or at a salon

N. Netflix new series

O. Outside fire pit or outside swing

P. Pedicures. Popcorn and a classic movie. Picnic. Photoshoot

Q. Quickie somewhere new

R. Random act of kindness together

S. State park

T. Trivia night.

U. Unwind by relaxing at home without technology

V. Vacation dreaming and planning.

W. Walk in a park you’ve never been to

X. Xbox gaming together

Y. Yard games.

Z. Zip lining. Zoo.

One more thing date nights do—they help you learn more about each other, and just because you’re married, that doesn’t mean you’re done getting to know each other. In addition to these date night ideas, if you’d like to keep on getting to know each other and have some things to talk about while you’re out, go ahead and grab our 25 Date Night Conversations from the tab below!

Now go on, get out there and have some fun!

How to Make Use of the Pause

How to Make Use of the Pause

For quite some time now, our society has been all about the hustle. We’ve been running ourselves ragged trying to achieve more, get more, and of course all while we stay in control of our lives. But what if that’s never been what life was supposed to be about? What if is all we’ve done is just indeed run ourselves ragged?

If we’re honest, I think we’re all feeling this fatigue, and even though a contagious virus is not how most of us would choose to pause, some of us have been craving it for quite some time.

But now that we’re here, what do we do with it? How do we slow down and make use of it when we’ve been so trained to constantly run?

Our first step is to RE-ENGAGE. We must re-engage with what is important. What is it that you’ve lost touch with amidst all the hustling? When’s the last time you’ve thought about your priorities in life? Are they making it to the top of your list on a daily basis?

Let’s see…

Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re pausing well…

Does your relationship with God look as it should? Have you been making time to pray, to be in His Word? This is a foundational part of a purposeful day and a purposeful life. Taking time pausing to ask the Father what He has for you on any given day. Allowing Him to align your priorities; taking the time to sit with him, to converse, to listen, to simply pause. This is always priority number one, and when we miss it, we usually can tell.

What does time with your spouse and your family look like? How long have they just been getting the scraps? When’s the last time you had a conversation together about anything other than the kids or the running of the household… or, about how exhausted you are?

It’s time for a change. Use this pause to re-engage your family. Pull out that devotional that you’ve attempted to do 100 times. If you don’t have one, we’ve got a great one for you HERE. Get talking with one another. Play a game with the kids, have a family dinner where you actually have conversations without heads angled down into a phone. Put some new phone free rules into place.

Engage one another. 

Prioritize your family.

Lastly, how have you been investing in the lives of others? Who is that friend you’ve been meaning to check in on? I personally have a friend who has written me a card with a note and a prayer in it every week for almost a year now. That friend has been a lifeline for me. Are you being that friend? Maybe now you can actually take the time to sit down and write a letter to someone. Maybe someone needs a call, a gift card, or just some contact letting them know you’re there, you’re praying, and you see them.

God always wants us loving others well, and yet our busyness never seems to allow time for that. But now, now we have the time.

It’s time for us to USE THE PAUSE and RE-ENGAGE.

Let’s slow it all down together. Align with God and His priorities…Love Him and love others (Matthew 22:37-39). Let’s take God at His Word and “consider it pure joy when we face trials” (James 1:2-4) because let’s face it, sometimes those trials bring us exactly what we’ve been needing the whole time. Let’s use this difficult time as an opportunity to create some good.

BONUS INFO : In addition, now is a great time to evaluate your greatest stressors to help you identify more areas to address that can help make your life better.

  • How are your finances, if this situation is making you feel vulnerable, is there something you need to change?
  • How is your physical health? Is your body feeling the strain of the stress?
  • What is it you’re afraid of running out of? Why? Are you panicked? Ask yourself why.
  • Are any fears you need to deal with being identified? Now that they’re on the table, it’s time to address them.

Here’s to moving forward, linking arms and making purpose of the pause together! It’s time to grow!

2 Simple Things For A Strong Marriage

2 Simple Things For A Strong Marriage

There aren’t really any big secrets about having a strong and satisfying marriage.  It’s not a matter of luck, and it’s most certainly not a matter of being married to the right person. There are however, a couple of things that might help. 

It turns out that the couples who report the greatest satisfaction in their marriage share certain things in common, specifically these two “simple” things. 

1. They spend time together.  Shocking, I know, but you’d be surprised (unless your marriage is one of these) how many couples don’t spend much time together. The successful couples are intentional about making time together, and they protect that time. 

It’s important to know that when we say spending time, we mean quality time, and quite honestly, quality time often comes from quantity time. You can’t just make quality time happen in the 5 minutes you have to spare for each other. Sure, you can be intentional in those few minutes, but overall, it just needs to be more than that. Leftover time to collapse at the end of the day doesn’t really count! 

2. They touch each other… a lot… and often. We’re not talking about big public displays of affection, or even having to hold hands everywhere they go.  We’re talking sweet, affectionate, reassuring touch. The kind of touch that is comforting and connecting. The kind of touching that reminds us that we are safe and connected, even on bad days. This may be the quick squeezing of the shoulders after a long day at work, a hand on the small of her back while out in public or at home, or the running of your fingers briefly through each others hair as you pass by. Those brief tender touches can go a long way.

Now, we realize that these may seem to be two simple things, but they may not be as simple to execute. After all, you’re busy and you’re often disconnected as a couple, trying  to get from one point to the next all day long. At the end of the day, you’re just two tired people who have been running around all day pouring yourselves out. It is for that very reason why these two simple things need to become a priority. 

Left unattended, life will begin to steal from you as a couple. It will keep rushing forward unless you pull back the reins and slow it down. No one intentionally sets out to be too busy, it just happens, unless you don’t allow it to.

Going forward, as you move about your day, take the time to pause and evaluate. If these two things seem impossible, can we suggest that might be a clue that you need to pull back the reins somewhere. It might be time for a schedule change, a child’s activity to be dropped, or hours at the office to be pulled back, if possible. 

Life is hard, busy and often draining, but what makes it even harder, is going through it alone. Take the time and invest the time and the touch in your marriage. Marriage is a journey meant to be enjoyed together!

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The Most Common Divorce Months. Do You Know Them?

The Most Common Divorce Months. Do You Know Them?

I’m guessing you’re reading this because the title peaked your curiosity to simply find out what the most common divorce months are? 

Or, perhaps you’re struggling a bit or on the brink of divorce and you wanted to see if maybe knowing these two months would give you some sort of a sign or even normalize some of your feelings.

On the other hand, maybe you’re reading because you want all the info you can get on avoiding divorce because you want your marriage to thrive. Regardless of why you’re reading, I’m glad that you are.

We won’t make you wait anymore, those months are March and August. But now that you’ve got the info you came for, please keep reading…. 

March and August seem like odd months for divorce rates to be high, but there is a reason they are. In fact, I’m writing this in June on purpose. Both March and August are on the heels of some catalyst times and events that can sometimes lead to divorce, so of course it is our hope to derail some of them.

In the months before March are some big holiday seasons. Lots of family get togethers and lots of Christmas debt collected. Let’s not forget Valentines Day, the all about love holiday. 

All of these occasions can create a perfect storm for some intense bickering and highlighting of marital emptiness. We’ll be back to fill you in on more of the March contributors when that season rolls around again, but for now, let’s focus on the one at hand, Summer.

Summer time can create a great platform for last ditch efforts for couples who have already been struggling. The kids are home and they easily become the focus. No one wants to ruin the kids summer with a divorce, so why not go all in for the next few months and then separate once school starts again? This genuinely is the school of thought for a lot of couples.

It’s also vacation time, and we all know how well a good ol’ happy family vacation will fix a marriage! No, really. Couples all over are being deceived into thinking that a nice vacation will fix their marital woes. It won’t. 

Vacations can provide us a lot of things, but fixing a marriage, is not one of them. In fact, the opposite tends to happen. So much weight is put into the perfect vacation bonding you again as a couple, that when it just slightly goes awry, it sends the couple plummeting down into the “this is never going to work” pit. I mean after all, if we can’t get along on the beach during a vacation, then we’re never going to be able to get along. The last ditch proves to be fruitless.

The problem with the vacation method is not the vacation itself. In fact, vacations can be AMAZING for reconnecting couples, just not when they include so much denial. 

The bottom line is this, if you’re struggling in your marriage, there is no magical cure. Make a decision today to stop looking for one. The truth is, you have to work to change it! 

Don’t depend on vacations, holidays or wishes of new beginnings to fix your marriage. Also, don’t let those times stress you out so much that they increase division.

The reality is, the only thing that will fix your marriage is trusting God for redemption and making a decision to actively begin working on it…Did you hear that? Read it again, out loud, the only thing that will fix your marriage is trusting God for redemption and making a decision to actively begin working on it.

Let that sink in because it could change your life and your marriage! 

Your vacation time and money will be much better served investing in your marriage and the the work that needs to be done to change it. So, get off Trip Advisor and call a counselor, a marriage coach, or a couple you trust. Keep reading some blogs, heck, talk to each another about solutions! You CAN turn this around. That way you can actually vacation for the FUN instead of the fix! 

Oh, and for the record, it’s not easier for your kids to go through a divorce just because they’re back at school. What’s easiest for them is for mom and dad to heal their marriage. 

Worth it, all day long. 

Let us know how we can help you….Enjoy the Journey!