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 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!

Ep. 9: Walking in an Attitude of Gratitude

It’s a hard season to be grateful in, isn’t it? Many spouses have spent this entire year on edge, emotionally drained, and just kind of mentally exhausted. If we’re not careful in our marriages, it gets really easy to begin to focus on all that is wrong, instead of recognizing all that is good and right.

It’s important to remember that gratefulness is a choice. It’s not our nature to look for the good and to be grateful. In order to walk with an attitude of gratitude in our marriage, we must intentionally…

· Stop- Stop and think, “What am I grateful for?”

· Look- Look around. Stay present. “What around me is good, right in this moment?”

· Go- Move forward keeping an eternal focus. “In light of eternity, how big is this problem, really?”

Quotes from the episode

“Gracefulness keeps us from focusing on our spouse’s flaws”

“When we focus on our problems, it makes being grateful hard”

“Ultimately, what we want for the people we love is for them to be whole and free.”

“Being grateful doesn’t diminish our problems, it just gives them proper perspective.”

“So it is not happiness that makes us grateful. It’s gratefulness that makes us happy” – David Steindl-Rast

 
 

Verses:

1 Peter 4:8

1 Thessalonians 5:8

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!

A Message from God for Your Hurting Marriage

A Message from God for Your Hurting Marriage

Dear Sweet Child,

I know you’re scared right now — for your marriage and for what the future may hold. Would you come and just sit in my presence and let me remind you that I control the future? I have begun this great work in you and in your marriage. I am not finished yet, and I will finish the work I started. Don’t worry. Don’t doubt. 

Trust me.

 I am trustworthy. I am forever faithful. I have never left you, nor will I ever leave you or forsake you. You don’t have to fear, because I am your God. I am the Maker of heaven and earth and the very creator of marriage itself. I will strengthen you and uphold you. Even though it feels like it, I will not allow you to be moved.

Come sit with me, for I know you are tired. Give me your burden, your marriage, and I will carry it. My yoke is easy. 

I know you feel like you can barely go on, but I am here, and I will provide the strength you need to persevere. Have I ever not provided the exact grace you needed in the exact moment you needed it? Is there anything you have not survived this far? I know every hair on your head, every need you have, and every longing of your heart. You can trust me to know exactly what your marriage needs, too. 

Will you trust me to refine you? To refine your spouse? To make all things new?

I know you are filled with doubt, but don’t forget who I am. I am the God of redemption. There is nothing too hard for me, dear one that I love. I know every detail of your marriage, and my glory is unfolding in it. I never do anything without purpose. I am the One who can make beauty from ashes. I made you, my magnificent work of art, in my very own image, from mere dust on the ground. Remember that I make beautiful things out of what seems like nothing.

My words alone can breathe life. I am the One who tells what is dead to rise up. Can I not do the same for your marriage? Will you take my hand and walk with me on this journey? 

Trust me.

Will you choose to take my strength, grace, and mercy and learn to suffer well? I have called you to this for a purpose. Your desert season is not unknown to me. You just don’t understand my ways; I know this, because my ways are higher than yours. If you could see what I was doing or understand me fully, I would simply be a greater version of you, but I am not. I am the great I Am. There is none like me. 

Trust me. 

Keep walking — one foot in front of the other. Follow Me. These are the trials that I promised you would come. Remember that I have overcome them already; therefore, you can take heart and find rest. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. 

Breathe in… 

Breathe out…  

That is the very breath I give you and sustain you with. Do you feel me? With every breath, that is Me. I have never left your presence. 

Great is my faithfulness, for I am not a God who disappoints. Fix your eyes on me, and you will be given perfect peace. Wait for me in your suffering. I am working. I am making a stream in the wasteland.  

Trust me.

I love you,

God

Honey, Let Me Tell You Why I Want a Date Night

Honey, Let Me Tell You Why I Want a Date Night

Honey, I know it’s been a while since we’ve had a date night. I’m tired, you’re tired, it’s too expensive, and we don’t have any time. I know all of these things are true, but yet I desperately want a date night anyway. Let me tell you why…

When we go out it gives me an opportunity to remember who you are and appreciate who you’re becoming. Who we are becoming together. These are things we can only know by communicating, actually having uninterrupted time talking together. We’re both always evolving and I don’t want to miss that. I want to know what’s going on in your life. How you think and feel matters to me. 

I also love us after we’ve experienced a date night. It increases the quality of our relationship. I feel loved and valued, and my love and value for you increases too. We’re a better us when we take time away together. Besides, sometimes I just really miss you and I don’t like that. I wan’t another date night with you. 

Spending time, just the two of us, reminds me that I am a priority to you and it helps me keep you a priority to me. I don’t want to just wish we had time together. I want to make that time of investment in you because you matter to me. When we go on dates I am reminded of our commitment and dedication to each other. I am reminded that you will always have my back and I yours. I really want a date night with you.

Honey, I want a date night with you because you make me come alive. Time alone with you makes me desire you in all the ways, physically, emotionally and mentally. It keeps the element of surprise in our marriage. It brings to the surface the fun and playful side of us that I love so much. 

Lastly, dating you makes me remember all the many things I love about you and why I married you in the first place. So, how about it, you up for a date?

Love,

Me 

Honey, I Will Never Bail on You

Honey, I Will Never Bail on You

To the One that I Love,

When I stood across from you as we spoke our vows, it was easy to give you all of my love and my whole heart. You were the perfect one for me, and in those brief moments at the alter, I felt complete. I was completely sure of my decision to vow my life to you, not in a commitment, as long as you make me happy, kind of way, but in that deep, everlasting, sickness and health, covenant kind of way.

I meant every word I said as I declared my love for you.

As the years have flown by, our emotions have flowed in and out like the waves of the ocean. At times, those waters have been serene and calm like a beautiful sheet of glass, but they have also seen days of raging like a violent storm. It is in those raging moments that I promise to you that I will always recall that day on the altar. 

I must. 

I must, because my emotions are fleeting, my desires are ever changing, and the circumstances of life are out of my control. That day at the altar, the words that flowed out of my mouth between you, me, and our God, they became the anchor of our marriage. I will rely on that covenant to always keep us afloat, even in the stormy seasons.

Honey, I will never bail on you.

I won’t bail because I know the quirks that you have, the ones that drive me nuts, are there to make me better. They call out a grace in me that I might not ever tap into without you. The way you leave your clothes on the floor, or leave the gas tank empty, or the countless coffee cups that have left rings on the table from sitting out all day, those things, as crazy as they seem, they make me better.

It is in those things that I am able to recognize that you have a need for me. I can see that I help you with organization, with being on time, with putting things away that never make it on your radar as you step right over them everyday. I see that I can make your life better by staffing your weaknesses and by showing you the deep love that only grace can offer. I know that I have a need for you too. You bring balance to my life that I often forget I even need.

Honey, I will never bail on you.

The arguments we have provide me opportunity for growth. They help mold me and shape me to become more like Christ. They ask me to level up in my faith and maturity. They encourage me to focus on solutions instead of on giving up. I need the challenge of us so I don’t ever become stagnant in my growth. 

Honey, I will never bail on you.

We were once two that have become one. You are a piece of me, tightly woven together by God himself. I have to choose to fight for you, for us, because in that I am also fighting for myself, perhaps in a way that no one else ever had. 

You were a gift to me, even on days when it doesn’t feel like it. You are the key to making me better. You are the one placed in my life to iron out my wrinkles, inspire the great things I am to become, and to simply walk alongside me. You are part of my healing and my celebration journey.

I won’t bail on you because I acknowledge that there is a greater purpose at work amongst us. One that holds us to the fire to burn away all the rough edges, to refine us and to show the world how Christ loves His own bride, the church. How could I ever allow the world to miss that? Bailing on you, would mean bailing on me, and ultimately it would mean bailing on God, and at the very least, He doesn’t deserve that.

Honey, I will never bail on you.

I won’t ever bail on you because I am not happy, because our marriage is hard, because we have a crisis, because you get sick, or because you go through a trial that changes who you are for season. All of those things call me to a greater love, a sacrificial love, just like the love Jesus came to give us all. And just as He once spread out His arms open wide, inviting us all in to receive the forgiveness and grace, I will always choose to open my arms to you, inviting you in, reminding you…that,

Honey, I will never bail on you.

Because, even in our darkest season and deepest pain,  Christ will never bail on us.

How NOT To Solve Problems

How NOT To Solve Problems

We’re not guaranteed a lot in life, but one thing we know for sure is that we will have problems. (John 16:33)

Therefore, it’s important to know that when those problems show up, there are right ways and there are wrong ways to handle them. The approach we choose will get us closer to a resolution, or it will get us farther from one, while also getting us farther apart from one another. 

None of us want that! So….

Here are a few things you want to try to avoid when those pesky problems come up. 

Don’t ignore them! Much to your dismay, problems don’t miraculously go away if you deny them. In fact, they can multiply. Denying problems forces you to continuously stay on alert by being ready to run again and again, because you know that they’re always right behind you. That is exhausting work. Besides, let’s be real, you’re just not that naive. You may try, but you can’t convince yourself there’s not a problem when you know full well that there is. You can run, but the truth is, you really can’t hide. Your problems will find you.

Don’t minimize them! If you find yourself justifying or excusing away a problem, or a behavior of your spouse, and often say or think things like, “He’s just tired and had a bad day”, “She only drinks to relax”, or “They didn’t really mean that”, then you are likely in the trap of minimizing. You’re trying to tell yourself that the problem really isn’t as big of a deal as you’re making it out to be. In essence, you’re believing that the problem really is you. You especially need to deal with it if your spouse has convinced you of that (that is an entirely different blog post). Nonetheless, minimization needs to be kicked out of your marriage. 

Don’t accept them! There is no need to accept problems in your marriage. We’re all going to have them and there’s no reason for just accepting them as the status quo. Tolerating problems and believing that change is impossible won’t do anything other than postpone more pain. Giving up and settling for misery will never be a win for either of you. Eventually you will run out of tolerance and end up extremely bitter or extremely hopeless. 

We don’t want any of these things for your marriage, and you shouldn’t either. There are healthy ways to deal with problems, and even if you don’t know all of them yet, even an attempt to deal with them is better than any of the above. 

Lastly, no matter what, when problems come your way, don’t be riddled with fear. You can take heart and know that even when you aren’t sure how to find the answers or solutions, God is. And, if you get lost along the way, we’re here for you too! 

Enjoy the Journey!
Chris & Jamie

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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