Dustin – Engaged Marriage

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About the Author

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

4 Marriage Money Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

Money problems are one of the top reasons that marriages end in divorce, yet unfortunately, most engaged and newly married couples fail to prepare themselves.

Although you’ve likely had a lot of serious talks about life including if you want to have children, where you want to live, what kind of career you want to have, chances are you skimmed through the money talk.

Though you both may be juggling your finances separately, now that you’re joining together as one, being on the same page is critical.

Below, are some of the common mistakes newlyweds make that end up costing them big later.

1. Not Sharing Financial Habits and Debts

Once you’re married, your money and finances are a joint effort.

As such, you must know how your partner deals with their finances, and more importantly, how much financial baggage they’re carrying with them. Waiting to disclose this information can lead to serious arguments about money in the future.

Knowing if your partner is a saver or a spender, whether they pay bills timely or whether they procrastinate, and having a general idea of how much debt they’re carrying around can help you both to make a plan that will secure your financial future.

2. Spending Too Much on Housing

The prospect of buying a new house can be exciting.

You’re ready to start your new lives together and want the perfect place to build from. Be that as it may, it is imperative to consider all expenses before purchasing a house.

Newlyweds fail to analyze the true cost of homeownership and essentially buy more of a home than they can afford. However, buying more home than you can afford is a surefire way to end up in debt or having your home foreclosed on.

Though getting a home is ideal for a married couple, it should be done with careful consideration. Review your options with a mortgage company to find the best loan rates and mortgage programs for first time home buyers. Then analyze your finances to ensure that you can afford the cost of owning a home.

If you’re unable to afford the big family home you’ve been eyeing, consider a condo or starter home and then relocate once you have the money to do so.

3. Not Having a Rainy-Day Fund

You never know what could come up that requires a large amount of cash to fix.

Newlyweds make the mistake of forgetting the plan for a rainy day. An issue with the house, the loss of a job, a need to pay for something for the kids, anything could occur, and unfortunately, they aren’t prepared.

This forces them to have to go deeper into debt by taking out a loan.

While you appreciate the sunshine, there will be rainy days that you need to prepare for. You never know when you’re going to need to repair or buy a new car, get the furnace replaced, or even worse, you may have to deal with you or your spouse losing a job.

Savings should be a staple in your financial plan. Putting aside at least 3-6 months’ worth of income can help to cover the costs of unexpected expenses.

4. Not Having a Budget

When you’re single, living on a budget may be less of a priority. You don’t have any other responsibilities outside of yourself and your own bills.

Many couples keep the same mentality that they’ll handle their own finances and make the mistake of not creating a budget. However, managing money separately can lead to miscommunication and misuse of household funds.

Creating a budget and sticking to it is not as hard as you think. You must be open and honest with one another about your debts, monthly bills, and your income. Then execute a financial plan that will cover all household bills.

Budgeting can help you to make informed decisions for the household and it most certainly keeps you out of debt.

Part of getting married is all about trial and error. It’s about finding your own way to make your union work. Be that as it may, when it comes to money matters, trial and error could be the very thing to tear your marriage apart.

Avoid these mistakes at all costs by openly talking to your spouse and creating a budget that will allow you to live out the life you’ve always dreamed of.

How to Proceed After Learning of Your Spouse’s Porn Addiction

By Dustin | Help

How to Proceed After Learning of Your Spouse's Porn AddictionFinding out that your spouse has been compulsively viewing porn in secret can be devastating.

Whether or not you come from a religious background and object to porn on moral grounds, the pain can be paralyzing.

Now you’re wondering what to do next: ignore it and hope it goes away? Confront them and demand change?

The questions may seem endless and the situation hopeless.

You may even be worried that your marriage is in jeopardy, but don’t give up hope.

Your marriage can survive this challenge, as long as you and your spouse both work together to establish good communication, regain trust, and seek help if the pornography consumption has reached the point of an addiction.

Step 1: Don’t Blame Yourself

The first step is to understand that you aren’t the cause of this problem.

Just because your spouse is viewing pornography does NOT mean they no longer view you as attractive or sexually desirable.

Most of the time, spouses have been dealing with this problem since long before the wedding day.

It has persisted into the marriage not because of any deficit or failing on your part, but because the issue was not properly resolved by the one dealing with it. So don’t blame yourself—you are not at fault.

Step 2: Understand the Danger

Regardless of your personal feelings towards porn, viewing this type of content comes with a host of potential dangers.

First and foremost, it’s addictive in the same way substance abuse is, and may damage the brain.

It causes emotional distance between the user and their intimate relationships. It leads to broader sexual addictions, and often results in increasingly severe infidelity.

In other words, it’s not something you want to encourage, or participate in. It’s a problem that requires a definitive solution.

Step 3: Understand the Addict

Next, understand that your spouse is still a human being, one who was probably exposed when young, and didn’t know how dangerous porn could be.

In many cases, they are incapable of stopping on their own and will need significant support from friends, family, support groups, and (potentially) licensed professionals in order to quit.

Be aware as well that not every addict is prepared yet to do what it takes to change.

Some believe that there’s no problem with what they’re doing, or think of themselves as casual users who can stop anytime.

Some may want to change, but don’t know how to deal with addiction.

Regardless of their disposition, they are trapped by behavior that has become compulsive, trapping them in a painful and unpleasant life.

Step 4: Confronting the Problem

At some point, you’ll have to have the talk.

Try to stay calm, and don’t play prosecutor. Likely, their conscience has already been suffering under the weight of their actions, and they feel a powerful amount of guilt and shame.

Pay attention to how they respond to your evidence.

Do they become angry?

Do they deny using?

Do they become remorseful and apologetic?

Do they understand how much it hurts you?

Make it clear the damage their addiction is inflicting upon you, and your desire to see them overcome the problem. If they try to start an argument, distance yourself from the conversation.

Step 5: Don’t Make Any Rash Decisions

The journey to recovery is a long one, and it’s not typically a smooth ride.

Some addicts are not yet willing to make a change, having rationalized their behavior to themselves.

Even those who are motivated to change often struggle with relapses and hurtful behavior plaguing them for years.

Supporting a loved one who is an addict is not easy, and some decide it’s best to get some distance.

The decision to stay or leave is one that should be made carefully. Don’t make any rash choices in the heat of the moment.

Give yourself time—preferably several months—to thoroughly think it over, so you can do what’s best for everyone involved.

However, if there is abuse, then put your safety and the safety of your children first and leave.

Step 6: Supporting Your Spouse During Recovery

If you chose to support your spouse’s recovery, remember you are their ally in fighting their addiction, not their judge or prison warden.

Here are some tips to make your support more effective:

● Be patient—it takes time to heal the damage addiction does to the brain
● Encourage them to set rules and safeguards to limit access, and help them keep them
● Try to spend quality time together to rekindle your romance
● Try to be non-judgemental when your spouse confesses relapses—it encourages honesty
● Help them find healthy hobbies to fill their time
● Let them come to you in moments of crisis
● Encourage them to seek support groups and professional help, if necessary

Step 7: Supporting Yourself During Recovery

Supporting a recovering addict is very taxing, so remember to take time to engage in self-care on a regular basis.

You will stronger emotionally and a better help to your spouse if you recharge frequently. So whether you’re busy with work, school, or kids, take some time to pursue personal interests, to exercise, to keep a journal, or other self-focused activities. Confide your struggles in a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, and any time you need space find a way to get it.

Recovery for the addict, the spouse, and the relationship is possible.

Your marriage will never be the same, but it can heal and become stronger. If they are willing to change and you are willing to stand beside them, you will discover a deeper love even than before you learned of the addiction.

About the author: Danielle Adams is a freelance writer who works with Lifestar Therapy. She is committed to helping people practice open communication and build healthy relationships.

5 Communication Games Guaranteed to Bring You Closer

By Dustin | Communication

Play Your Way To Better Communication…

Communication Games Guaranteed to Bring You Closer“Let’s talk.”

Those words can stop a partner dead in their tracks.

The idea of “working on our communication” is usually met with eye rolls, shrugs or even denials of a problem.

The first reaction is often, “We talk. We talk about the kids. We talk about the house. I asked you about your day.”

You talk. But do you communicate?

If you had to stop and think about that, read on because it may be the most important thing you can do for your relationship.

Communication Is More than Talking

Talking is simply sharing information using words. It is a way to inform another person about a particular thing.

It’s important but it is not a stand-alone relationship builder.

Stick around and we’ll show you 5 simple games you and your partner can play to exercise your communication skills, deepen your romantic connection, and build a stronger life together.

But first, you need to know one key thing: communication between intimate partners is more than words – it involves establishing an emotional connection.

It is this emotional connection that is the foundation of intimacy.

The emotional connection between partners is often cited by both men and women as the most important factor that determines the quality of their relationship. Emotional connection includes:

  •        Being able to talk openly with each other
  •        Being a good listener
  •        Showing appreciation or support
  •        Doing your part to make the relationship work

That may sound really complicated, but the fact is that couples tend to build intimacy through everyday moments. It’s what you choose to do every day that enhances your level of communication and intimacy.

Verbal communication – words – makes up only a small part of how we communicate. It has been estimated that 60-90% of our communication is non-verbal.

And that 60-90% is made up of things like body language, gestures, facial expression and tone of voice. It’s the how of what we say, and it is powerful.

Learn how to master the art of emotional connection and you and your partner will find a level of intimacy that will enhance and nourish your relationship on every level.

We’ve seen hundreds of couples benefit from the techniques using our easy online system, Communicate Your Way To A Better Marriage. Along the way, we’ve learned that building communication doesn’t have to be boring, and these 5 communication games we’re about to share are anything but.

We learn by doing. And the more we do something, the better we become at it.

So grab your partner and get ready to have some fun while you break down those barriers.

#1  Twenty Questions x 2

This is a light and fun bonding game to get you started. Remember the game 20 Questions? This is the grown up version.

We sometimes forget to pay attention to the little things that make us who we are. Paying attention to the little things and remembering them creates a sense of knowing each other. Here’s the game:

Set aside some time for the two of you without distractions.

  • Prior to the sit-down, each of you should make a list of 20 detailed personal questions to ask the other. Be creative with the questions – silly, serious, different areas of life or subjects. You may be surprised what you learn.
  • Take turns asking each other a question.
  • Once you’ve each gone through your list, reverse the questions. Take your same lists and have your partner answer the question for you. For example, if you asked your partner, “What is your favorite color?” ask, “What is my favorite color?”

#2  Do You See What I See?

Here’s a fun way to gain some insight into how your partner receives and uses information. It’s also a great activity for working together.

  • For this game, you’ll need either some building blocks like Lego’s, Play-Doh or drawing paper and crayons. Facing away from each other so that you cannot see what the other is doing.
  • The first person will take a couple of minutes to build or draw something. Don’t give your partner any details or hints.
  • Next, describe what you created to your partner without telling him/her what it is. Their task is to visualize and create the same object as closely as possible using the descriptors you provide.  
  • Turn and discuss the result. How close were the two objects? What information would have been helpful to have?
  • Then switch roles so that each person has the chance to give the descriptions.

Remember, there is no right or wrong. In the beginning, it may be really hard. The more you do this activity, the easier it becomes to understand what your partner is trying to convey.

It also sheds some light on your communication style and what you might be able to express more clearly.

#3  Eye-to-Eye

This game is actually a take-off on staring contests we used to have as kids only with a grown-up flair.

The purpose of this activity is to increase comfort with expressing yourself to your partner. Being in close proximity enhances the feelings of intimacy and connection. Bonus – this game can be kind of sexy.

So here’s the game:

  • Sit facing each other so that you are close enough to hold hands.
  • Look directly into each other’s eyes.
  • Notice the feelings you are experiencing.
  • Now start talking about something. Keep it simple to start. It might be about your day or a funny thing that happened at lunch.
  • When you’re finished, let your spouse share something. Do this a few times back and forth then discuss what the experience was like.

For many couples, this exercise is uncomfortable in the beginning. That’s ok. The more you do it, the more comfortable it becomes and the deeper your discussions will go.

#4  The Top 3

This game is all about recognizing the positive aspects of your relationship and the wonderful everyday things your partner does.

  • At the end of each day, set aside a few minutes to reflect on your day. Think of the three best things your partner did for you that day.
  • Next, take turns sharing those things and why they meant so much to you.
  • And don’t forget to say, “Thank you.”

This game focuses on appreciation and expressing thanks which are two very powerful and often overlooked parts of communication and connection.

You’d be surprised at how much of a difference gratitude can make.

#5  Make a Play Date

Taken from our best-selling book 15-Minute Marriage Makeover, this is not your average date night.

Make a date to do something fun with your partner– something different and maybe even a little spontaneous. The only ground rules are that:

  • It has to be something for just the two of you and you cannot discuss kids, work or home problems like that leaky faucet in the kitchen.
  • Choose something that requires you to be present. Go sailing, go rock climbing, sneak away for a quiet weekend…the possibilities are endless.
  • Take turns picking the activity. Surprise your partner with something new.

The point of this game is to reconnect with each other in an activity that requires you both to be present for each other. You’ll be on neutral ground, away from the pressures of home and work.

This shift allows you to let your guard down and enjoy your partner while building that feeling of closeness and connection.

 

So now you have some fun and easy ways to get the communication ball rolling, and there’s more where that came from…

When you’re ready to truly revamp your relationship and find develop a deeper level of communication, we have a system to help you do just that.

Developed by Dr. Corey Allan to help his patients strengthen their bonds and change their lives, this powerful method is bound to bring you and your partner to a new level of communication, intimacy, and trust.  

Discover how deeply fulfilling your union can be with Communicate Your Way to a Better Marriage.

Relax! How A Few Minutes Of ‘Me Time’ Can Make You A Better Wife

By Dustin | Romance

When you’re stressed and in a constant battle with your to-do list, the last thing on your mind is your relationships.

After all, you have to finish the deadline for work, get the kids homework done, clean up the dog’s war with the pillows, and attempt to make lasagna for dinner tonight from scratch.

However, in the midst of it all and other things that life seems to continually throw at us, is our partner.

Despite the fact that they so obviously want to be with us – after all, they married us, sometimes we can forget the fundamental aspects of being in a relationship.

That is why we should be making time for each other and actively attempting to communicate, connect and have fun with the other person.

This is really hard to achieve if all you can currently think about is the looming bills or the never-ending piles of dishes in the sink.

But if you simply took time to recharge your own batteries, to indulge your own desires and hobbies, you might find that you are more able to sit through a nine-hour Star Wars marathon that your partner has been meaning to get to for the past couple of weeks.

What are the benefits of self-indulgence for you?

One of the main benefits touted is the reduction in overall stress levels through the art of doing whatever it is you want.

Nothing is off limits during this me time extravaganza.

From an episode of Netflix, to getting your nails or hair done, to going for a hike, or even just curling up with a good cup of coffee and a book, the options are endless. And really you are only limited by your imagination.

Since “me time” is traditionally something done all on your own, it has been found to grant some women greater belief in themselves and makes them more self-confident.

After all, how many of us have actually been trained in enjoying activities that are all on our own?

So maybe next time take yourself out for lunch and load up on some extra girl power.

A study out of the University of Michigan has reported that couples who did not regularly engage in their own personal activities had even higher cases of self-reported levels of relationship dissatisfaction than couples who were unhappy with their sex lives.

Hence, doing your own thing is more important than previously thought.

Psychologists have further found that “me time” can aid us in numerous ways from raising our productivity at work and our ability to focus on things to giving us space to allow for better personal growth and self-awareness.

Most importantly for those in relationships, a little time taken to work on ourselves has been shown to drastically improve the quality of our relationships.

Ways to implement “me-time” now.

First off, throw away the guilt.

Yes, at first, there are some who won’t understand your need to spend time by yourself and may even feel hurt by your decision.

However, they will greatly appreciate your renewed sense of vitality, fresh perspective and your willingness to put even more of your renewed energy into your relationships with them.

Now, it has been found that the vast majority of people spend their alone time in one of three ways: they either watch television, engage in social pursuits, or throw on their workout gear and dive into whatever sports or leisure activity they can get their hands on.

If you’re thinking, “But I don’t have hours to go and spend in the yoga studio to freshen my soul,” that is absolutely fine.

A British study recently found that as with most things in life, it is not the quantity but the total level of quality or perceived satisfaction that is gained from the activity that actually matters.

Next, if you’re struggling to see when and how you are ever going to find time to engage in all these activities, it’s high time you establish a routine.

Either wake up or go to sleep at different hours from everyone else in your household, or make scheduled dates in your diary, which are allotted to your “me time” activities.

Just like you would prioritize a dentist appointment, you need to prioritize your appointments with yourself.

Finally, the key to achieving your goal of having an amazing relationship with not just your spouse but yourself is going to take commitment.

You need to work at it every day in order to become the power couple and powerful woman of your dreams.

Therefore, why not go out and book that nail appointment, sign up for the yoga class, or grab a coffee and give yourself the time to become the best version of you your relationship so desperately needs.

 

Sarah is the author of Relax Everyday, where she can teach you a lot more about relaxation and meditation. To achieve healthy relationships, as well as a balanced mind and body, remember to relax. Why not learn how?

How to Pay Off Student Debt as a Couple

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

So, you are married now, congratulations!

You’re about to experience a wonderful ride.

If you are like most people, you probably have some student loan debt that you are holding onto and now that you are married, it may have doubled.

Since you both share debt now, you may want to think about paying it off at the same time together to ensure both you and your partner are working towards a better financial future.

Below, we will explore some ways that you and your partner can team up and work together to pay off student loan debt as a couple.

Let’s take a look.

Consolidate Your Student Loan Debt

When you get married, you may automatically think that yours and your spouse’s debt instantly merge together. They do not.

When we mention that the amount may have doubled, we are saying that if you had $10,000 in debt and your partner had $10,000 in debt, you collectively have $20,000 in debt. If that is the case, you should look into consolidation if you want to put a ring on your debt.

But, there are limitations to this.

If you are your partner have student loans (federal or private), it is important to know that you CANNOT merge your loans together and consolidate them with a federal consolidation loan. Federal consolidation is offered to individuals only, so you cannot lump them together through the government.

Bummer, right?

There is a solution though. You and your spouse can consolidate your loans through a private lender which is more commonly known as student loan refinancing. There are many lenders out there who will consolidate your loans, so you and your partner can work on paying the debt down.

There are some advantages to consolidating yours and your spouse’s loans together. Some of those benefits include:

• Higher credit score is used to determine the loan
• No worry about annual recertification or tax filing statuses
• Lower your interest rate
• Decrease monthly payments and payment amount
• Adjust the length of the loan terms

Consolidating your student loans is a good idea if you have big plans in the future such as buying a home, a car, or even starting a family. Here is more on private student loan refinancing and its differences with federal consolidation.

Since federal consolidation is a bit different than refinancing your student loans through a private lender, so you must explore both options thoroughly to see which one will work for you.

Refinancing your student loans with your spouse may be a good idea and can help save the both of you thousands of dollars.

Refinancing works to reduce the interest rate that you pay on your student loans. When you head to a private lender, they will take all of your student loans and combine them into one loan.

From there, a repayment term, monthly amount, and interest rate will be generated.

Many people choose to refinance their student loans because you can get a rate that is substantially lower than that of which you pay now. For example, many borrowers, who qualify, receive an interest rate somewhere at 3% to 5%.

Things to Think about Before Making the Leap

Before you choose to consolidate or refinance your student loans with your spouse, you want to make sure it is the right idea.

You should think about whether or not you are ready to give up the benefits that come with the Federal Direct Loan program.

When you refinance or consolidate through a private lender, you will no longer have the option for deferment of the loan, forbearance, or convenient payment amounts. This is something that needs to be discussed upfront, so that you can make sure it is within your budget.

In addition, you and your spouse need to be on the same page as to whether or not you both want to combine the loans and make payments together. Some couples determine that this is not the best option for them and it may or may not be the choice for you.

Lastly, take some time to think about how much the payments will be, how they will be made, and what your goals are.

For example, if your total monthly payment combined is $350, who will make the payment? Do you switch month to month, do you split the amount in half every month, or does someone take on the whole amount and the other pick up another bill in a similar amount?

The choice is up to you, but you should have a plan in place to prevent default or late payments.

Final Thoughts about Paying Down Student Loan Debt as a Couple

You may be making a wise choice by paying down your student loan debt as a couple. You can save a lot of money in interest if you choose to consolidate or refinance.

With that said, you do need to make sure it is the right financial move for the BOTH of you before you sign any new paperwork.

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