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Make an Appointment to Date Your Spouse

Lovely interracial couple having lunchIn my last Normal Marriage post, I said I would follow it up with a post on why spouses should make an appointment for sex. I’m pushing that post back one week so we can first talk about the need to make an appointment to date your spouse.

When you and your spouse first met, date night was the highlight of your week. But once you were engaged, going home at the end of the date was frustrating. You were ready to be married so you didn’t have to date anymore. Now that you’re married, you see each other all the time. So why schedule dates?

I believe dating your spouse is one of the most important things you can do in marriage. In fact, in premarital counseling I tell couples that the first week they’re back from their honeymoon, they should go out on a date and keep regularly dating one another until one of them dies.

Dating your spouse…

  • Communicates that your spouse and your marriage is a priority to you.
  • Fosters the attention and communication your marriage needs to grow.
  • Reminds you of what brought you together in the first place.
  • Creates a closeness and romance that wrangling kids and doing chores just can’t create.

We all know that dating our spouse is a good thing, so why is it so hard to create and continue a habit of dating your spouse?

Some will say that when you see each other all the time, it takes all the “specialness” out of dating. I disagree with this. Dating your spouse is still special. It’s just a different kind of special.  Before marriage, it’s the date itself that’s special. When you’re married, the “specialness” comes from the bond that lingers days after the date. When you and your spouse are regularly dating, it has a positive spill-over effect into the rest of your marriage.

But I think the main reason it’s hard to create and continue a habit of dating is because so many things compete for our time and attention that we put dating our spouse on the back burner.

With all the demands we face, the only way to create and continue a habit of dating is by making an appointment for dates with your spouse.

Here are some thoughts and ideas about how to make an appointment to date your spouse…

  • A date means it’s just the two of you. No other couples. No kids. Just the two of you if at all possible.
  • Date your spouse at least once every other week. Once a week would be even better.
  • Put your dates on the calendar. Make sure the calendar is somewhere where everyone can see it. If you’re using an electronic calendar, set a reminder a few days before.
  • Set aside some money in your budget for date nights. Your dates don’t have to be extravagant, but burgers and babysitters still cost some money. If you have to cut your budget somewhere to make this happen, it’s worth it! It’s an investment in your marriage.
  • Take turns deciding what you’re going to do. You can flip a coin to get started, then write on the calendar who’s planing the dates. Try to mix things up a little. A nice restaurant…a burger joint. A movie…a walk in the park. Just remember…the goal is to spend time together.
  • Put away your cell phones. I know this is hard, but every time you focus on your cell phone you’re telling your spouse that they’re really not that important or interesting. Not a good move!
  • Don’t let anyone or anything talk you out of date night. No matter how tired you might be, keep your date night. No matter how much your kids complain about having to stay with a sitter, keep your date night. If a business meeting or an illness trumps your scheduled date night, reschedule and get it back. Guard these date nights as if the life of your marriage depended on them…because it might.

I can hear some of you saying, “You don’t know my schedule…you don’t know how tight our budget is…we don’t have any babysitting options…etc.” I’ve been there. When I was in grad school, I was a full time student. I worked 30-40 hours a week. My wife worked full time. We had a 7 year old daughter and a 5 year old daughter. There were times when we had no babysitting options. And to top it all off, our money was so tight that we would have to dig for coins in the sofa if we wanted to go out.

But we figured it out. We would go to McD’s and let the kids play on the playground while my wife and I shared a small drink; (which we refilled a hundred times.) We would take a cooler of drinks to the park and talk while the kids played with other kids. And if we could find enough money in the sofa, we would splurge and go to the discount pizza buffet on the nights the kids ate for free. What I’m saying is…you can do this!

So don’t put dating your spouse on the back burner. Make an appointment to date your spouse, and keep the appointment. Because anything you put on the back burner doesn’t get as hot as it does on the front burner.

What’s your experience with dating your spouse? Let us know what works and what doesn’t, as well as how it has effected your marriage.

Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg

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Make an Appointment

Save the Date Words Circled on Calendar Red MarkerIs your marriage crazy busy? Even if it’s not, you need to make an appointment to spend time with your spouse and family.

The other day, my eight-year-old granddaughter called me at work. When I answered the phone, I heard her bright and chipper voice say, “Hello Poppy!” After I said hello back, she got straight to the point of her call. “I need to talk to you,” she said. I was a little taken aback by her abruptness. After a second or two of silence, I said, “OK.” Then she bluntly said, “So when can I talk to you?” [Read more…]

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User Friendly Spouse?

antisocial latin couple while on laptop and tabletI’m an Apple Computer guy. From my very first MacBook years ago, I’ve been smitten with Apple products. Why? Basically because I find them to be very user friendly.

You may not care what brand of computer you use. You may not even care about computers in general, but if you’re married you do need to care about being more user friendly. [Read more…]

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Small Changes Can Have A Big Impact

Own House Dreams

What if a better marriage didn’t demand a major over-haul? What if you could have a better marriage by making small changes?

I believe that small changes can have a big impact in marriage. Think about it this way…if a plane leaving L.A. for N.Y changes it’s course by just a degree or two, it will end up in a completely different part of the world! Small changes can be very powerful. [Read more…]

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The Right Gift Every Time

surprised woman looking into gift boxIs there a way we can be confident we’re giving the right gift every time…no matter what?

We’re just a few days away from Christmas, and perhaps you’re still out there scrounging to find that last-minute perfect gift for someone.

Finding the right gift for that right person seems to come naturally for some. But for many of us, we struggle with finding the right gift. We wonder…”What if they don’t like it?” “What if it’s the wrong size.” “What if they already have one?” After all, none of us wants to give a gift that will later surface at some white elephant, gag-gift exchange!

So back to the question. Is there something we can give that we can be confident will be the right gift every time? I think there is.

It’s a one-size-fits-all kind of gift. It’s a gift that is always in season. It’s a gift that is applicable in every culture. It’s a gift that everyone needs. It’s a gift that everyone wants more of. It’s a gift that can impact a person forever. And best of all…it’s a gift that doesn’t cost you anything.

What is this gift? It’s the gift of appreciation. It is the right gift every time!

The desire for appreciation starts at an early age, and it doesn’t go away just because we’ve grown up. Appreciation communicates that we matter and we’re important. Who doesn’t need to feel that? Appreciation can be like water to a thirsty soul and air to a drowning man.

Appreciation (or the lack of it) will leave it’s mark on a person. Think of a time when someone showed you how much they truly appreciated you. I bet you still remember it clearly and feel it powerfully. That’s the kind of impression showing appreciation makes. Like wise, I bet you can remember a time when someone didn’t appreciate you. It too made an impression on you you’ll never forget. Appreciation is a powerful gift, because it can actually effect the course of a person’s life.

There are lots of ways for you and I to show appreciation, but here are three good ones…

  • Telling someone “Thank You,” when they do something for you. This is a great way to start showing appreciation. “Thank you for folding my clothes.” “Thank you for working so hard for us.” “Thank you for this great meal.” “Thank you for keeping the yard looking nice.” “Thank you for watching this movie with me.” “Thank you for (fill in the blank.)” It’s a simple thing to do and we should do more of it.
  • Noticing someone’s talents or gifts. “I’ve always admired how you know just what to do in this kind of situation.” “You did a great job on that. I’m so proud of you.” “I love the way you (fill in the blank.)” “You’re so good at fixing things!” (By the way, that last one is not one my wife can legitimately use, because I’m not good at fixing things.)
  • Telling someone how important they’ve been to you. “I could not have done this without you.” “God has used you to help me become better in this way.” “You brought (fill in the blank) into our marriage…and I needed that.” “You’re such an important part of my life and our kids’ life.”

These are small things and they may not seem like much, but the people around us are starving for this kind of appreciation. When you show someone appreciation, you give them a gift that lifts them up and encourages them. But there are a couple of things you need to know…

  • You can always find something for which you can show genuine appreciation. You may be thinking, “You don’t know this particular person. If I have to be genuine, then I’ve got nothing!” You probably feel that way because your frustration with them has caused you to stop looking for the good. You’re only focusing on the negative. But there is almost always something there you can appreciate. And once you find it, it will get easier to see more things to appreciate.
  • If you do these things to try to get something from from someone, it’s not a gift. It’s manipulation…and it won’t work. Appreciation is something needs to come from the heart. You must mean it.Any time is the right time to give the gift of appreciation, but the holidays give us an easy way to get started. So if you’re looking for that last minute gift, try appreciation. It’s the right gift every time!

For the next couple of weeks, try this experiment. Try making a conscious effort to show appreciation, especially to those with whom you struggle. Take note of the difference it makes, both in them and in you. Leave a comment and share the results of your experiment.

Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg

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Marriage and Sex Should Go Together.

young couple in bedWhen I say marriage and sex should go together, you may think, “Well duh. That’s a no-brainer!” But there are too many times where marriage and sex don’t necessarily go together…or at least not well.

Husbands and wives usually have a difference of opinion when it comes to how important sex is to the marriage. That difference of opinion usually plays out in disagreements and flat out arguments over how how frequently they should be having sex. Typically, it’s husbands complaining because sex is not happening as frequently as they would like. But there are some marriages where this is the other way around.

Although this disagreement is common, it should not be considered trivial. Sex is an important part of marriage and has a direct correlation to marriage satisfaction. That’s the reason there are so many books and articles written on the subject. Even the Bible has a lot to say about sex in marriage. (Check out the Song of Solomon or 1 Corinthians. 7:1-5.)

Recently I came across a TEDxCU talk called “The Sex Starved Marriage.” In this 17 minute talk, Michele Weiner-Davis talks about the difficulties that occur in marriage when one spouse isn’t interested in sex and why it’s important for the marriage to bridge that gap. Though Davis’ talk is not necessarily “faith based,” I believe it speaks clearly and truly as to why marriage and sex should go together.  So rather than reading through a post, click here and listen to a strong talk that will make you think and hopefully challenge you to talk to your spouse about how marriage and sex should go together. (And you get extra points if you watch it with your spouse.)

After watching the video “The Sex Starved Marriage,” leave comment and let me know what you think about it.

Copyright © 2014 Bret Legg

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Find a Reason to Stay Together

Depositphotos_3918231_xsIf you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of marriage. I’m like the person who finds a reason to root for their favorite team, even if their team isn’t doing so well.

But many of the people who come to my office thinking about divorce can’t find a reason to root for the team. They can’t find a reason to stay together.

It’s difficult to find a reason to stay married when your feeling the accumulation of hurt, neglect, anger, betrayal, and general ill will. But I encourage couples to look hard to find a reason to stay together. [Read more…]

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Little Things Mean A Lot – Spending Time Together

Time management. Business couple time concept. Isolated.Typically, the more time you spend on something the better it gets. This can be true in marriage. Generally, when husbands and wives spend more time together their marriage gets better.

But in many marriages, spouses tend to short change their time together. Why is that? [Read more…]

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Has Your Marriage Moved From Breathtaking To Frustrating?

Grand Canyon 250x250I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, but I’ve talked to people who have and they tell me it’s breathtaking.  They say you’ll stand in awe of the beauty of this masterpiece of creation.

Yet if you lived there all your life, the familiarity would probably cause it to seem less  breathtaking.  You would probably focus more on jagged rocks, dust and dirt, lack of greenery, over abundance of tourists…you get the idea.

We do the same thing in marriage. [Read more…]

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When Marriages Go To War

Toy Soldiers 250x250I heard an interview the other day with a doctor who had gone to Syria to take care of children caught in the war there.  The doctor spoke of children and families being torn apart, physically, emotionally and relationally by the on-going war.  There may be times when war is unavoidable, but it’s never good.

The same is true when marriages “got to war.” [Read more…]