Creating Courageous Couples

It takes courage to stay married these days.

We love to golf and one of our favorite golf quotes is from Tommy Armour who said: “If you want to play golf you’ve got to learn to love the struggle”.  Boy is that true for golf, but it’s also true in marriage.

It’s a struggle being married to a first-born male who always thinks he’s right!  It’s a struggle to be married to a woman whose spiritual gift is sarcasm. It’s a struggle to live with someone who puts the toilet paper on the wrong way!  (Thankfully we’ve figured that one out!)

Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Unfortunately, the pattern of this world doesn’t tell us to “learn to love the struggle” does it?  No instead it tells us if our marriage is a struggle to get out!  “God wants us to be happy right?”  Newsflash— God doesn’t want us to be happy — He wants us to glorify Him.

Here are four habits Courageous Couples practice which in turn glorifies God.

1. Communicate.  Understand that men and women communicate differently and that’s OK.  Men talk about facts and activities and women talk about people and feelings.  So guys, never ask her what she thinks about something ask her how she feels and ladies never ask him how he feels about something ask him what he thinks. Seems elementary, and it is, but it works!

2. Cuddle.  We know this isn’t second nature for most men, but fellas your wife needs to be touched in non-sexual ways.  What happens when you give your wife non-sexual touches?  First, it makes her feel secure in her femininity.  She feels like a woman.  Second, it makes her feel secure in your relationship.  She knows you are good. And finally, it makes her feel loved.  What man doesn’t want his wife to feel loved?

3. Consummate.  That’s right sex.  Ladies for 80% of you your husband has a higher sex drive than you and as a result, you feel like it’s all he has on his mind.  But trust us this is a real drive for most men.  What happens for your husband when you have sex? First, it makes him feel secure in his masculinity.  He feels like a man. Second, it makes him feel secure in your relationship. He knows you are good. And finally, it makes him feel loved.  What woman doesn’t want her husband to feel loved?

You see to Cuddle and to Consummate go hand in hand.

4. Chuckle.  A great sense of humor is not the ability to laugh or make others laugh. It’s the ability to laugh at oneself.  Proverbs 17:22 says “Laughter is like good medicine.” It’s been medically proven that when we laugh our bodies release endorphins. These hormones are like natural drugs which heal the body.  When you laugh with your spouse it can actually heal your hurt and pain in the relationship.  Learning to laugh together is one activity you can share for your entire life!

We were made to be in relationship and when courageous couples practice these four habits we truly glorify God because it is He who made us to be in relationship.

Lavish the good on each other

Recently on The 2018 Marriage Cruise, we were directed by Dr. Gary Chapman, to look at each other eyeball to eyeball and tell the other what we loved about them. Do you know how hard that is to do? It shouldn’t be but it is. Jay and I immediately started laughing at each other because that is what we do – when we are uncomfortable we laugh. We didn’t have a difficult time answering the directive, we had a hard time looking eyeball to eyeball!

When was the last time you and your spouse looked at each other eyeball to eyeball? When was the last time you told your spouse what you love about them?

In our world of chaotic schedules, time robbing devices, and non-face to face communication, it is of utmost importance that we take time to verbally eyeball to eyeball tell our spouse what it is that we love about him or her. So go ahead, sit down and look at each other and lavish the love!

To find out more about The Marriage Cruise go to TheMarriageCruise.com.

3 things that are killing your love life

My (Jay’s) mom has a famous saying…”sorry kiddo there’s no perfection in this world!” Mostly she would say that to me when I would get disappointed because my expectations for a situation went unmet.  Unmet expectations can be a real killer in relationships and are exacerbated by our culture and it’s obsession with social media, comparison, and perfectionism.

Social Media

We love Social Media!  It’s a great way to stay in touch with distant friends, to watch their kids grow and in general to stay up on what’s “new”.  Unfortunately, everyone posts their “A” game on Social Media and as a result, we never see the “real” life that they are living.

For example, if people were to look at our Facebook page they would see all the fun places we get to travel and all the neat people we get to meet.  They would think we have a “dream job” and to a certain extent, we do. However, what they won’t see is us crawling into bed at 2am because our flight was delayed.  Or the constant battle with weight because we are on the road all the time and exercise is non-existent and eating out is the norm.

Only looking at others “A” game simply leads to…

Comparison

When we compare we tend to get stuck on the idea of “why is everyone else’s life so much better than mine?”  Their life isn’t better than your’s it’s just different.  Again you don’t know their struggles and challenges.  Further, you don’t know their past and the path they have walked.

Comparison is the thief of JOY

When we compare, we rob ourselves of the tremendous JOY that comes from knowing God is in control and He has you right where He wants you.  When we focus on the blessings we DO have we tend to see our life differently, our spouse differently and our relationships differently.  All in the light of God and His sovereignty.

And when we realize God is in control we can eliminate…

Perfectionism

I (Jay) remember thinking early in our marriage that if Laura was more like me we’d have a perfect marriage.  Then she gently reminded me that if both of us were the same…one of us wouldn’t be necessary…and I can tell you who that would be!

Ruth Graham once said that good marriages are made up of two great forgivers! Nothing could be closer to the truth!! When we realize all that God has forgiven in me, it becomes easier to forgive others, particularly our spouse.

It’s only when we learn to forgive that we understand the phrase “There ain’t know perfection in this world” and realize this axiom:

Focus on Progress NOT Perfection.  Set realistic goals in your marriage. Setting reasonable, manageable, measurable goals is how you progressively move your marriage in a positive direction.  Here are just a few examples of realistic goals:

  • Set a budget for your family and meet with your spouse once a month to make sure you are on track.
  • Date once a week, but alternate who decides what to do for the date.
  • Join a gym and commit to 30 minutes of exercise three days a week.

When we focus on Progress NOT Perfection, we give our marriage room to grow!

Marriage…It’s worth Celebrating!

Do you Celebrate Your Marriage?  We mean really celebrate the gift of marriage God has given you?

Often in marriage, as we walk through the day to day routine of life, we forget to celebrate the greatest gift God has bestowed on His people. For a Christian couple, marriage should be a life-long party.

Yes, we understand that life is hard and yes we understand that even in the best of Christian marriages there are tough times. However, when we realize the benefits of celebrating marriage together – it gives us a reason to rejoice.

The first benefit of a Christian marriage is that God has given us a Partner. What joy there is for the couple that has built a friendship over the years and walks through life with their best friend. Laura and I have been best friends virtually since the day we met on our blind date. For others that friendship must develop.

All friendships take time, energy, and effort. When we take the time to put forth the energy and effort to build a friendship with our spouse we take our eyes off ourselves and learn the gift of serving. Further, with Christ at the center of our friendship we fulfill the Scripture which says:

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecclesiastes 4:12

The second benefit is that we have a Provider. Couples who celebrate, realize that each one is gifted uniquely and we learn to defer to the strength of the other. This fleshes itself out differently in every marriage but couples who celebrate realize that in marriage we were meant to complete each other, not compete with each other.

In our marriage, Laura is great with decorating the home and making sure my socks match my outfit. I, on the other hand, provide Laura with a spouse who actually understands the word ‘budget’.  If Laura didn’t ‘provide’ me with an eye for color my entire house would be beige and if I didn’t ‘provide’ her with economic sanity she would be up to her ears in debt. We provide exactly what the other needs.

Pleasure is perhaps the most recognizable benefit to a marriage that celebrates. Romance and human sexuality are a gift from God that has unfortunately been perverted by our world. We firmly believe that God intended couples to have great sex lives. In fact, studies are showing that romance and sex in a marriage are a good barometer of the state of the marriage.

It is said that for a woman “when all is right with the world all is right in the bedroom” and for a man, “when all is right in the bedroom all is right with the world”.  You see the pleasure of marriage is best fleshed out when we work (that’s right, it’s not spontaneous combustion like on TV) at making the world or the bedroom ‘right’ for our spouse.

The final blessing is the Prize.  Studies abound that married couples live longer, happier, less stressful lives. Their financial status is much higher, and their standard of living is much greater than that of single or divorced people.

Beyond the earthly blessings listed above comes the blessing of God. Throughout scripture, God uses the analogy of marriage to the relationship of Christ with the Church. God seeks to bless His church as it is faithful to the person of Christ.  In the same way, God seeks to bless couples who are faithful to each other.

So why celebrate your marriage?  Because of the benefits are waiting for you!  Let the party begin!

How do you keep love alive?

L is for the way you look at me

O is for the only one I see

V is very very extraordinary

E is even more than anyone that you adore

Every couple has ‘their’ song. You know that song that transports you back to when you first fell in love. For us, it was Lionel Richie’s “Stuck on You”. Ah, young love.

Science tells us that when we fall in love our bodies release a hormone known as dopamine.  Aptly named eh? Science also tells us that this hormone starts to diminish after 18 months. So how do we keep love alive?

We were performing one of our Ultimate Date Nights in a small town in Ohio. The local ministerial association had joined churches together to bring us in and the event was held at the local middle school Cafetorium.  What is a Cafetorium?  It’s a large room used for a number of activities such as a cafeteria for lunch, a gymnasium for PE, and an auditorium for performances.

We were on the stage, there were chairs on the gym floor and then there were bleachers on the other side of the gym. The place was packed! We were having a great time making couples laugh and connect with each other. We noticed one particular couple was having a little too much fun.  We noticed them because there was a light that shined right down on their seating area and we also noticed them because they were all over each other. Oh, and did we mention they had to be in their mid 80’s!

After the show, we were signing books on one end of the gym and this 80 year old man vaulted over the railing that separated the gym floor from the bleachers.  His wife came scurrying up behind him with a huge grin on her face.

We said to the elderly couple “We saw you two… you were both getting a bit ‘handsy’ up there!”  Without skipping a beat she said, “That’s what keeps us young!” Then he immediately said, “You tell the youngsters to remember ­- what you did to get your spouse is what you need to do to keep your spouse.”

What sage advice!  Keep the dopamine flowing in your marriage by practicing those actions you took when you first fell in love! Date her like she’s the only girl on the planet. Flirt with him like he’s the cutest boy in school. Kiss her passionately for no reason. And whisper in his ear “I’m all yours!”

It takes work to keep the romance alive but let’s be honest, it’s FUN work. Make your marriage and the love you share last long into your 80’s and be the couple everyone looks at and says “Wow they’re still in love!”

New Beginnings

Are you as 100% disciplined as youd like to be in your marriage?

We figure most of you would answer “NO”.

The devastating answer is that you ARE as 100% disciplined as you will EVER be!  You are 100% disciplined to the good habits in your marriage and 100% disciplined to the poor habits in your marriage.  The only thing we can do is change a poor habit into a good habit.  Social science tells us it takes 21 days to form a new habit.

So here are a couple healthy marital habits you can start changing today!

Uninterrupted Planned Conversation

Some of you might be thinking Do they know how crazy our life is?  How can we have Planned” conversation?Simple, schedule it.  We make appointments for work, to workout, lunch appointments, Dr appointments, car maintenance appointments.  Why not have a standing daily conversation with your spouse!

Daily conversation is a habit that will greatly reduce the stress in your marriage.  All too often we THINK weve communicated something to our spouse but really weve only thought about it in our own minds.  Daily conversation allows you to cover the bases” making sure you and your spouse stay on the same page with schedules and important events.

Gentlemen, it also makes your wife feel valued.  Nothing says I value you” to your wife more than her watching you shut off the TV, put down your phone and look at her when youre talking.  Trust us when we say she will feel closer to you than ever when you communicate eyeball to eyeball. And remember, when she feels close she will want to be close.

Intentional Planned Intimacy

Planned Intimacy? It sounds so unromantic.”  While we are talking about bedroom activities, intimacy goes SO much deeper. Here are some tips for creating intimacy outside the bedroom which will lead to greater intimacy in the bedroom. 

Fun Intimacy 

Doing something FUN together creates a great deal of intimacy between a husband and a wife.  We like to cook together. Working together in the kitchen is almost like dancing as we help each other prepare delicious meals.  We also like to golf together, shoot guns together and garden together. Having fun together as a couple requires a LOT of compromise.

If you are not necessarily doing an activity thats on the top of your fun list, watch how much fun your spouse is having and enjoy their fun.  I (Jay) had to learn this about shopping with Laura.  I dont like malls. Laura does and Ive learned to enjoy watching her have fun in the mall.

Romantic Intimacy

DATE!  Thats right go out on DATES.  Its what fanned the flame of love early in your relationship and its critical to keep the flames burning.  Dating doesnt have to be expensive. Rent a $1 Redbox movie, put the kids to bed early, pop some popcorn and enjoy.  Pack a picnic lunch and go to a local park.  Whatever you decide simply put it on the calendar and make it happen!

This year begin to develop good healthy habits in your marriage and watch your love grow deeper and richer this year!

What is with Double sinks?

Watching TV is one way Jay and I wind down at the end of a busy day. One of our favorite shows to watch is House Hunters. We love to see the houses in different cities across the country. We love commenting on how selfish some of these people are, of course believing we are above that!

However one feature that seems to be a priority on every house hunters list is double sinks. We don’t get it!? Let me be more clear – double sinks in the master bath. We have a master bath with a single sink and we actually enjoy the sharing of this sink. We like bumping into each other, dancing around the sink, and spitting on each other! Think of all the fun we would miss with each having our own sink!

This is just me but I am not a fan of the huge master bathrooms where you could both be in there and not even be aware of each other! Marriage is about give and take. Sharing a sink is just one way we give and take-spit and all. Now don’t be offended if you love your double sinks- this is just my take on sinks and bathrooms!

We would love to hear from you and your thoughts on sinks!

Making The Most of a Messy Marriage

Let’s face it, there are times when marriage is messy. Okay, it’s messy most of the time! Let’s be honest, we’re two fallen creatures living in a fallen world trying to honor God in the midst of our mess. So we’re going to share with you 4 ways we’re all a mess and how to make the most of your messy marriage!

We’re all a mess.

Mentally. Let’s face it, men and women think differently. So how do we make the most of our mental mess? Mentally meld. We often joke that between us we have ONE brain. It’s true, when we operate best is when we both think on a matter, come together and meld our thinking into one unified thought. It’s not his way or her way but our way.

We’re all a mess.

Emotionally. You’re both adults, so how do we make the most of our emotional mess? Emotionally exercise self-control. We love this statement. “My response is my responsibility!” You can’t control your spouse’s response to a situation and your spouse can’t control yours. Only YOU can control how you react to any given situation. So the next time you’re about to blow up, count to 10 and exercise self-control.

We’re all a mess.

Sexually. How do we make the most of our sexual mess? Sexually submit. Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Nowhere in marriage is this more important than the bedroom. Intimacy in marriage is critical for a healthy relationship and husbands and wives have very different needs in the intimacy department. Communicating intimacy needs is often a difficult discussion, but one that will reap great rewards as you, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

We’re all a mess.

Spiritually. We know we’re a mess Spiritually as Scripture says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” So how do we make the most of our spiritual mess? Spiritually surrender. We try so hard to be the perfect wife, the perfect husband and the perfect couple, but we can’t. In our own power we fall short everyday, but when we surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit we walk, talk and connect on a deeper level as a couple.

One of the best actions you can take to spiritually surrender is to pray together. Many couples struggle with this but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply start by speaking out loud the things that you are thankful for and you’ve begun a prayer life. Ladies, sometimes you can take the lead. There will be days he just doesn’t feel spiritual and he needs you to be spiritually strong.

So take these steps to make the most of your messy marriage.

Sex? Check it off the list

Ladies, this one is for you. Listen closely, sex is NOT a CHORE! Stop treating it that way.

So many times we have seen a married couple portrayed as the husband wanting sex and the wife continually acting annoyed because of it. Picture it, the husband and wife are laying down in bed and the husband tries to initiate sex with the wife. The wife turns to him, rolls her eyes and say “You’re kidding, right?”. That is not healthy. That is not funny. That is not marriage. STOP doing that.” – MELISSA RUFF

Jay and I frequently talk about the fact that your marriage needs to be a priority above your kids, your jobs, your hobbies, etc. I love the way Melissa Ruff says it in an article she wrote for XXX Church.

https://www.xxxchurch.com/couples/friday-rant-sex-is-not-a-chore.html

She uses marriage and spouse interchangeably in her rant. However I think for a healthy mindset we need to distinguish the two. Your husband must be your priority about the kids, the jobs, the hobbies. This is a subtle difference yet a huge one! Many of us could say “ my marriage is my priority” yet still not make our husband a priority. We make our husband a priority by meeting their needs whatever they might be.

The mindset of sex being a chore is one I find frequently in the minds of married women. We can make our marriage a priority by setting aside date nights, getting marriage education regularly, getting away for a couples getaway YET still not make our husband a priority. When it comes to meeting the needs of our husband we have allowed our children, our jobs, our hobbies to zap us of energy needed. We have to set aside not only time but emotionally energy in order to make our husband a priority.

This takes planning ahead and saying no to some good thing in our lives in order to yes to the best. The average man needs sexual release every 72 hours, that is every 3 days! So when you think your man is acting a little “testy” check the last time you met his need! Plan ahead and make it happen!

Forgive So That You Might Be Forgiven!

What did Jesus come to do? He came to forgive! Luke 6:37 NIV states, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” If we are going to build a marriage around the person of Jesus, then as Ruth Bell Graham says, “Good marriages are made of two great forgivers!”  Again, not talking about forgiving the big things, although that is a must, we often forget to forgive those little daily annoyances!

I married a drama king – The leftover hot chili episode.

Have you heard of the movie, “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen?” Well, here is my movie, “Confessions of a woman married to a middle age drama King!” Seriously, I am married to a drama king!  Don’t believe me? I had made chili one night for dinner and for lunch the next day asked Jay if he would mind leftovers. “Sure!” He said. So I heated us up some leftover chili for lunch. I put it nice bowls, laid out nice placemats, lit a candle, I mean hey it was leftovers, but it could be a nice lunch. I called Jay down from the office for lunch and he said, “Ohhh, it all looks nice honey!” He sat down, and took one sip of his chili and the atmosphere went right out the window. You burned my mouth! Why did you make this so hot, you know I have a tender tongue! He stood up pushed away the chili, spilling it and stomping around the kitchen, complaining about the hot chili on his tender tongue!

This is what we have to forgive! We have to forgive when the chili is too hot and when our spouse makes a simple mistake something bigger than it actually is! Ladies and gentlemen, a good marriage is made up of two great forgivers. We forgive because Jesus has forgiven us!

So remember that forgiveness walks on two legs. The first leg is repentance. In order for the forgiveness process to begin we have to have a repentant heart. Genuine repentance breeds forgiveness.

The second leg is Grace. When true repentance is shown it allows Grace to step in and do its job, namely forgiving without expectation. We live in a world where every action seems to have “strings attached”. Strengthen your marriage by regularly practicing genuine repentance and God sent Grace.

How great a God that forgives us all the little simple mistakes we make.