Dustin, Author at 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.

Try a Cooking Class Date with Your Spouse

By Dustin | Romance

Cooking Class DateIn a recent post, I shared a way to reconnect with your spouse while staying home on date night. This time, you’re going to go outside of the house on a cooking class date.

I’m not talking about a restaurant, though.

How engaging is to go out to eat? You come in, you sit down, and you’re served.

Don’t get me wrong, I love dining with my wife. It’s nice to get away from it all and be treated from time to time.

But imagine having all that, PLUS an innovative and fun learning experience. There’s an added engagement from doing or making something together in addition to just talking that really stands out.

Consider a Cooking Class Date

Part of a long-lasting relationship is growing together and trying new things. It means having new experiences, new adventures, and new challenges…together.

I’m going to suggest you try skipping the typical evening out at the same old restaurant and enjoy an intimate and educational session on a cooking class date instead.

After that, you’ll have a follow-up session at home later on to keep the good times going!

Find Cooking Classes

To prepare, one of you will search for local cooking classes. There are several ways to find out what classes are offered in your area, including:

  • You can ask friends for referrals, which increases your odds of picking a good place.
  • Google “date night cooking class near [your hometown]” and you’ll find plenty of options.
  • Many classes are offered inside of higher-end grocery or retail stores like Whole Foods and Sur La Table, and the prices are comparable to dinner out at a decent restaurant.
  • Local cooking schools sometimes offer classes to the general public.
  • You probably get catalogs full of community classes in the mail from time to time, showing adult education classes offered to the public for a modest price.
  • Next time you’re in a coffee shop, check out the corkboard as there are often flyers for local cooking classes posted there along with other community events.
  • Checking Groupon.com is a great way to see who is offering classes at a discount. If you can save a few bucks in the process, why not!
  • You can even hire expert cooks and chefs in your area using Thumbtack.com to give you a personalized cooking class date, as low as $40/person in some areas.

Picking the Right One for You

So many choices! No worries, you’re sure to find the ideal place for this memorable date night. The next step is choosing the right one.

Pro Tip: Make it as interactive as you can.

You’ll find options for classes where a chef does all of the cooking and you simply watch, enjoy a cocktail, and then eat when they’re finished.

However, for your cooking class date night, look for an interactive class instead where someone leads the way but the two of you actually get your hands dirty and prepare your own meal.

You’ll learn a lot about the foods you’re creating and have plenty of time (and reason) to laugh along the way as you learn new skills.

The type of food is also a consideration and a chance to show your thoughtfulness.

  • What kind of foods does your spouse like?
  • Is there something maybe they’ve always wanted to try?
  • A favorite country’s cuisine?
  • What about you?

Here’s your chance to kill two birds with one stone and learn something that will benefit both of your lives while also improving your relationship.

Whatever your options are, can you see yourself cooking it more often at home? Think how great it would be to add a new dish to your regular home meal lineup.

Once you’ve thought it through, pick a cooking class, register for it, and have fun when the night comes!

The Follow-up Session

Here’s a twist to make this extra special. Pick another date night to cook the same meal together again sometime within the next month, and compare it to the original.

The spouse who didn’t register for the cooking class will schedule a follow-up session at home and pick up the ingredients at the grocery store that day.

Don’t worry – the chef from your class will send you home with a detailed recipe for the dinner you prepared.

All you’ll have to do is follow along together…and bring back the laughs and good memories.

Later on, whenever you want to bring back memories of the fun time you had on your cooking class date, you can always cook the meal on an ordinary night. “Surprise! It’s our special dinner.”

This is just one of many fun but simple activities you can plan with your spouse to make date night special.

Doing so will add variety to your life, keep your relationship continually positive and healthy, and help you both to learn and grow as individuals.

Do You Want to Take This Date With You?  Want More?

If you enjoyed this post, we want to make it easy to put it into action.  You can click here and download a beautiful PDF summary of this date night!

And you’d like more of these creative dates and other romance-boosting goodies, you’ve got to check out our Date Night Magic bundle:

  • 15 Unique Date Nights (beautiful date night plans that make it easy – regularly priced at $39.00 by itself)
  • Creative Romance Workshop (regularly priced at $29.00  by itself)
  • How to Bring Back the Romance Workshop (regularly priced at $29.00 by itself)
  • 7 Simple Ways to Reconnect When Life Gets Crazy (regularly priced guide at $2.99 by itself)
  • 5 Romantic Ideas for Each of the 5 Love Languages (regularly priced guide at $2.99 by itself)
  • 74 Simple Things to Brighten Your Spouse’s Day (regularly priced guide at $2.99 by itself)

SPECIAL: Get the entire bundle for $25 (limited time only)!

You can the link above to pick up Date Night Magic and get instant access to all of this – have fun!

A Unique Gift Idea for Your Spouse: Gold-Dipped Roses

By Dustin | Romance

Roses have different meanings, depending on their number and color. A single, gold-dipped rose conveys any sentiment, though.

Whether you wish to express love, friendship, confidence, trust, comfort, or appreciation, the sentiment will last forever with a real, single, 24-karat gold-dipped rose like those offered by our friends at Love Picker.

The Perfect Gift for Any Occasion

An authentic, gold-dipped rose makes the perfect gift for any occasion, or for no occasion at all. Ideal for work or wedding anniversaries, wedding gifts, sympathy or encouragement gifts, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or Mother’s Day, the Love Picker Rose is sure to delight.

Gold dipped roses satisfy even the most selective customers, making them the perfect gift for the man or woman who has everything. Or, show yourself appreciation and care by adding a gold-dipped rose to your own home décor or art collection.

Thoughtfully, Masterfully Crafted

A real, 7” rose, dipped in 24 karat gold, the Love Picker Rose retains all the natural beauty of a single rose. Additionally, each rose comes its own certificate of authenticity, so you can be assured your gold-dipped rose is of the finest quality.

Created by master jewelers, each real rose is picked at its peak, trimmed to perfection, preserved, and dipped in genuine 24 karat gold. The delicate look of each rose petal and leaf is retained, though the product is strong and sturdy. Through the gold, the smell of the rose underneath still lingers.

Display

Every gold rose is delivered in a luxurious black leather box, adorned with gold hinges and clasp and a custom-engraved gold plate.

Exceptional for both presentation and display, the classic black leather display case is the perfect accompaniment for such a thoughtfully crafted, unique piece of art.

Strikingly brilliant in any light, the 24-karat gold-dipped rose is especially stunning under LED lights or under mini accent spotlights. Your rose can be displayed in its case, on a stand, or alone on a shelf, dresser, or piano.

These roses are especially dazzling mounted, alone or in multiples, as art on a wall or in a wall vase.

Delivery

These gold-dipped roses can be shipped worldwide. Orders to be delivered in the United States typically take 3 – 5 business days for shipping. Canadian orders arrive in 5 – 10 business days. Deliveries to any other country arrive in as little as 7 – 15 business days.

A Gift That Lasts a Lifetime

Real flowers, beautiful as they are, wither and fade. A gold-dipped rose ensures your gift and sentiment last forever.

These roses can even be passed on as family heirlooms. Both a jewel and a piece of art, gold-dipped roses last a lifetime, even for generations to come.

5 Ways to Stop Arguing with Your Spouse

By Dustin | Communication

5 Ways to Stop Arguing with Your SpouseStop arguing with your spouse…if only it were so simple!

Let’s face it…communication is very complex.

It’s not like something like money, which is very quantifiable and systematic, as in “Do X, Y, Z, and you’ll be successful.”

Communication between one person and another is so much more personalized and dynamic, especially with your spouse.

“You Are Here”

You’ve probably been wandering around the mall before, certain the store you’re looking for is just up ahead…and then wondering where the heck it went.

Communicating with your spouse seems so straightforward, in theory.

Before you know it, you’ve gotten off track and are so caught up in it that you don’t know where you are or how you even got there.

It’s times like this I wish we had a map to reference, with a “You Are Here” sticker, just like at the mall.

Now, I don’t know if this happens in your house (it sure does in mine), but I’ll get in a conversation with my wife Bethany, and we’ll start disagreeing about something.

What we’re talking about five minutes into the conversation is not what we started talking about.

I literally forget what started it!

We’ll be talking about budgeting and asking, “Where is this receipt?” Then all of a sudden we’re talking about stuff that has nothing to do with budgeting.

By then it has moved on to more personal things. Someone says, “I can’t believe you did that.”

And then you realize, “Wait a minute. How did we get to this?”

How to Stop Arguing with Your Spouse

Whenever you get into a tense moment with your husband or wife, it’s very likely one or both of you started to recognize that you’ve starting to gradually get off course.

You’ve probably felt things getting too tense as the conversation gets heated.

The good news is, it’s not too late to get things back on track again, de-escalate and stop arguing with your spouse.

First, notice what’s going on. Then, attempt to repair things…to break the tension, to soften the situation a bit.

This could just be a glance. It could be something you say. It could be interjecting some humor, or even a change of scenery.

Whatever it is, it’s your chance to disrupt the current cycle and get things back on task.

That “something” is called a repair attempt. Repair attempts are ways to break the tension and realize the current conversation doesn’t have to erupt into something emotionally charged.

Repair attempts are nothing more than subtle things with an amazing ability to break the pattern of arguing.

I’m going to share the top five with you so you can put them to good use to stop arguing with your spouse.

Repair Attempt #1: Using Humor

Imagine that you’re arguing with your husband or wife about something yet again and suddenly they stick their tongue out, just like a four-year old.

Would that break the mood? You bet it would.

It’s kind of silly but it works! You’re in a tense conversation and all of a sudden you recognize, “Wait a minute…I don’t want to be like this.”

So you stick out her tongue out and before you know it, they’re doing the same and you’re both laughing. After a good chuckle, you both take a short break and come back to what you were talking about.

You can also say something funny to break the mood. Just be careful!

Sometimes that’s pushing the wrong button, and you especially don’t want to come across as making light of something or making fun of her. Try making fun of the situation instead.

Repair Attempt #2: Switch Rooms

This time, let’s say that you and your wife are in your living room having a conversation that is turning into an argument.

She recognizes that you’re talking about something important that deserves to be discussed, but that things are started to get heated and she doesn’t want that.

So she asks, “Hey, can we carry on this conversation in the kitchen?”

You reply, almost without thinking, “Sure…Okay.”

Before you know it, you’re in a different room and it feels different. This is a great chance to start over again, and approach the conversation from a more conscious mindset.

And this feeling of a “reset” can be one of the best ways to stop arguing with your spouse, even if the effect is a bit subconscious.

Repair Attempt #3: Go for a Walk Together

Another way to break the tension is to go for a walk together. This works really well with emotionally-charged situations.

Not only does it involve “switching rooms” by going outside, but when you’re walking side-by-side it feels more like you’re easing into your difficult conversation.

You’re approaching it head-on without all the pressure of being face-to-face, which can feel like a confrontation.

For my wife and I, the greatest conversations happen when we’re driving because I have to keep looking forward.

I’m not saying you should avoid eye contact, but consider it taking a break from staring at each other’s frustrated faces.

Repair Attempt #4: Using Touch

Another tip along these lines is to hold hands. It just warms the heart and serves as a reminder that you’re both coming from a loving place.

Even if you’re really angry, it’s pretty hard to hold their hand and look into their eyes without feeling soothed enough to get back on track about whatever the conversation is supposed to be about.

Be the first to reach out and gently hold your partner’s hand, and you’ll see the difference it makes.

Repair Attempt #5: Sit Beside Each Other

Like I was saying before, no one ever said you have to sit face-to-face across the table from each other and talk things out. It can feel kind of confrontational.

Maybe neither of you feel like doing that this time. One of you might be comfortable with eye contact, and the other is not.

Instead, try sitting beside each other, because then you can concentrate on the topic at hand without getting caught up in body language – which may or may not be tied to what’s really going on.

Now, of course you want to be tuned into their mood. But you also don’t want unhelpful distractions.

If, for example, my face gets some sort of weird look all of a sudden and my wife sees that, she’s going to respond to it.

Maybe I just have gas, though!

I might be uncomfortable, but it’s not about what we’re talking about. It’s something else. In the heat of the moment, however, it’s easy to misunderstand.

Setting the Habit

Obviously, as you understand each other and connect better over time, the fewer misunderstandings you’ll have.

But body language will always influence us in ways we’re not even aware of, so try sitting beside each other and see how it feels.

Human nature is what it is, despite our best intentions. So until the day comes that tempers never start to escalate, you have these five repair attempts.

Try each of them and see how they go for you. You might even come up with your own and personalize things for your own relationship and experiences.

The main thing is to 1) be conscious when tension is occurring, and 2) use your communication skills to break the pattern and get back on track again.

You’ll find it helps repair your conversations and does preventative maintenance on your relationship as well.

And those are two keys to stop arguing with your spouse.

A New Way to Spend Date Night at Home

By Dustin | Romance

Date Night At HomeWould you ever consider having a special date night at home?

Think back for a minute and remember where you were the first couple of times you went out with your future spouse, before you were married. What were you doing on those dates?

The odds are you didn’t just “Netflix and Chill.”

At that point in your relationship, it was probably something unique like trying out a new coffee shop, a new restaurant, walking through a park.

But once you’re married, things change. For starters, it’s not sustainable to go out on the town every other night.

Maybe you’re on a budget. Maybe you want something quiet to do without having to find a babysitter.

Or maybe you’re a true homebody and never liked going out all that much anyway!

How to Have a Meaningful Date Night at Home

What a lot of couples do is default to staying at home and watching TV. This is something simple you can do together, for free, every night if you wanted.

It takes no planning, and it’s nice to be together.

But…it can get repetitive and just doesn’t feel special enough to be an activity for your weekly date night.

By the way, I strongly recommend setting the practice of having a weekly date night with your husband or wife.

You’re together every night, but are you really together?

A date night is a night for you two to not only be together, but to have a change of pace, to get away from it all.

And, to rekindle the kind of passion and excitement you had in the initial stages of your relationship.

It’s so refreshing to reconnect with those times and feel a little of that early infatuation without completely losing your head.

Sometimes that date night is going to involve going out of the house, or something less mundane and more complex.

But, just because you have a date night at home doesn’t mean you can’t try something new! Or, more specifically, something familiar in a new way.

Want to know how? Read on…

Beer, Popcorn & Tunes

Little things that show you care can go a long way further than big, dramatic displays, and they’re certainly better than nothing.

Sometimes, showing just a little bit of intention is enough to set things apart from just going through the motions.

It doesn’t have to be big at all, just different.

So here’s an idea…spend your next date night at home with your spouse:

  • Reminiscing, over the music from your dating years
  • While you enjoy a sampling of new beers
  • And gourmet popcorn!

(This assumes you both like beer, of course. If you don’t, then substitute it for another one of your favorite beverages, with or without alcohol.)

To prepare, one of you will need to swing by the grocery store beforehand and pick up several different bottles of beer that you’ve never tried before.

Most larger stores will have a section where you can buy individual bottles of craft brews – get local selections when possible.

And while you’re there, pick up some of that yummy gourmet popcorn that often comes in a bag or tin. It could be kettle corn, caramel, or some other delicious flavor.

Memories from Music

The other spouse will be responsible for the music (or one person can prepare both – whatever works best for you – but it’s often best to make it a team effort).

Think back to your favorite songs from your dating days and the early days of your marriage.

Which artists and songs really capture that era of your lives?

Then, put together a playlist on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, etc., so you can enjoy the memories that come from listening to great music.

Once the kids are in bed, crank up your playlist and enjoy sampling small pours of different brews while munching on some fancy popcorn.

The memories and conversation will flow from there!

Other Ideas

I strongly suggest that during your date night at home, you don’t watch TV or a movie but pick something more interactive instead.

After all, you can watch TV any night. This is date night!

And the point is to spend time communicating with each other – just the two of you – undistracted, with nothing else occupying your thoughts and energy.

I’ve found the best thing is to just talk. Don’t worry, you’ll find something to discuss.

Maybe catch up on their day first, and then move on to something deeper, or discussing your shared past or future.

Flipping through photo albums (digital or even print if you’ve been together a while :)) is another fun activity that can rekindle your cherished times together and also prompt the kind of conversation that brings you closer.

There’s all kinds of activities! But don’t get too focused on what you’ll be doing.

The bottom line is that you’re spending time together!

The beer, popcorn, and tunes set the stage for a thoughtful and engaging evening that’s a bit of a break from the norm while showing them you care.

Do You Want to Take This Date With You?  Want More?

If you enjoyed this post, we want to make it easy to put it into action.  You can click here and download a beautiful PDF summary of this date night!

And you’d like more of these creative dates and other romance-boosting goodies, you’ve got to check out our Date Night Magic bundle:

  • 15 Unique Date Nights (beautiful date night plans that make it easy – regularly priced at $39.00 by itself)
  • Creative Romance Workshop (regularly priced at $29.00  by itself)
  • How to Bring Back the Romance Workshop (regularly priced at $29.00 by itself)
  • 7 Simple Ways to Reconnect When Life Gets Crazy (regularly priced guide at $2.99 by itself)
  • 5 Romantic Ideas for Each of the 5 Love Languages (regularly priced guide at $2.99 by itself)
  • 74 Simple Things to Brighten Your Spouse’s Day (regularly priced guide at $2.99 by itself)

SPECIAL: Get the entire bundle for $25 (limited time only)!

You can the link above to pick up Date Night Magic and get instant access to all of this – have fun!

The Time to Work on Your Marriage is Now!

By Dustin | Communication

The Time to Work on Your Marriage is Now!No one expects the honeymoon to last forever.

No surprises there. We all know that even when you work on your marriage it will have its ups and downs.

Where you’re at today is not where you were yesterday, or where you’ll be tomorrow.

But where are the two of you at, exactly?

Here are some classic lines we hear…

  • “We’re fine.”
  • “We’re doing about as good as our friends, or better.”
  • “We may not be where we wanted to be when we first married, but we’ll get there.”

I mean, why bother spending time fixing something that’s not broken, right?

If something’s not noticeably broken, then it doesn’t seem urgent or important…

…which means that you’ll take the time to work on your marriage later….one of these days…someday.

Creating your dream marriage might seems like something to put off until the kids are older, or when you have more time, or money, or have advanced more in your career.

Well, guess what? There’s never a perfect time to work on your marriage, because later never comes.

The Prime Time for Divorce

If I had a nickel for every time Bethany and I have talked to a couple in their 20’s, 30’s,or especially 40’s who tells us:

“We’re doing okay right now. We have so many sports activities and stuff, but when the kids move out, we’ll be able to focus on us, and that’s when we’ll have the dream marriage that we always wanted.”

Right? Wrong.

Did you know that the #2 most common age range for divorce is between 50-55? It’s right there at the beginning of the Empty Nest phase.

Can you guess why?

What happens is that life keeps moving forward while taking care of the relationship gets quietly put on the back burner.

When you put off focusing on being a couple and doing the things that make marriage awesome, you wake up one day and feel like your husband or wife is a stranger. You feel like roommates, because haven’t done anything to keep the marriage alive.

Love is a choice. And love is a verb. It’s something you have to do, not have.

If all you do is live together in the same house, go to work, take care of the kids and so on, without taking consistent effort to work on your marriage and keep the fire going, here’s what will happen.

If you put your relationship on the back burner for too long, I guarantee you’ll will wake up one day to an empty nest and realize the children were the only thing keeping you connected.

You won’t know what to do with yourselves.

And that’s so scary, because that’s when divorce happens.

Where is Your Marriage at Today?

So please, beware of the “We’re fine, we’ll work on this later” attitude.  If you get one thing out of this article, please avoid falling for it!

Make the choice to work on your marriage now, in some small way.

Do something now, even if it’s something small. Every little bit helps, and usually that’s all it takes.

If you read my previous article “3 Powerful Marriage Exercises You Can Do in 15 Minutes or Less,” it shows how it only takes a few minutes here and there to make a very powerful, positive impact.

Here’s a quick exercise. You can do this by yourself, or together if your spouse is with you.

Grab a pen and paper and draw a horizontal line on it, with a 1 on one side and a 10 on the other. Then, add a triangle in the middle at 5.

It should look like a teeter totter. Pushing down on one side is going to make the other side come up.

Now, give yourselves a grade, rating the current state of your marriage somewhere between 1 and 10.

  • 1 means on the verge of divorce – poor communication, no intimacy, maybe even separated.
  • 10 means you’re living your dream marriage, however you picture that to be.
  • 5 means average – you’re doing okay. Not great, but not bad.

Now, here’s the interesting part.

If Your Marriage Isn’t Growing, It’s Dying

No matter where your point is at on that line, it’s always moving. It might be to the left or to the right, and it might be slow and subtle.

That’s because marriage is a living thing. It’s either living and growing, or it’s dying and decaying. A marriage is getting better or getting worse at any given time.

Now, people will argue and say “That’s not true. We’ve been together for five years and we’re doing fine. Some days we’re a 3 and having a fight, some days we’re a 7 and the sex is great, like last night. But we’re pretty much a 5.”

A couple thoughts on that…

First of all, why would someone want to stay mediocre forever, at a 5? I understand a 10 is very hard to reach and stay at on a daily basis, or even comprehend. But wouldn’t you love to live in an 8 marriage?

How much happier would you be if your relationship with your spouse (the most important one in your life) was at an 8 or 9, day in and day out?

It would be awesome! So that’s one good reason to make the effort and work on your marriage now.

Beware of the Slippery Slope

The second reason is on the cautionary side.

While you might think your marriage is sitting squarely at 5, the days of the 3’s and 4’s are going to slowly accumulate as your marriage quietly starts to slide just a little more to the left.

It won’t feel like it’s moving at all. But if you’re in a static place (also called a rut), your marriage is going to start to slide backwards.

Now, it doesn’t jump straight from 5 straight to 4, then 3, and then all the way to the left. Nope! It slides from 5 to 4 ½.  Then just above 4. Then at 4.

And then one day, bam – you wake up and it’s at 1 or 2.

By that time, there’s already something majorly wrong. Maybe there’s been infidelity or hidden finances. There might be depression, drug abuse, pornography addiction, or other something else – and neither you or your spouse thought you were the kind of person who could ever do it.

And now you’re asking yourself, “What the hell happened in our marriage?” We were fine! I thought we were fine!”

You’re angry and upset, and don’t have any idea what happened.

Bethany and I hear this every single week (if not every day) from couples who come to us looking for coaching help. They tend to say, “We didn’t see it coming.”

That is the slippery slope.

These kinds of things happen when you’re stuck in a rut. Whenever the relationship slowly degrades because you’re not feeding it positive fuel, you start to slide back down that slippery slope until you fall off.

Before you know it, you’ll have some major issues and rebuilding to do.

I don’t want this to happen to you.

The Time to Work on Your Marriage is Now

Some people might be reading this and thinking,“Dang, that’s exactly what happened to us! “

Now we’re at a 1. My husband is living out of the house, and I wish I could rewind everything and be working our marriage up above 5 on that scale instead of letting it slide.”

Or, your marriage might be at 7 and you’re thinking, “Hey, we’re doing pretty well here!” That’s great! But you can’t stay complacent because it’s very easy to slide right down the scale. Keep at it!

But wherever your marriage is right now, you can only start where you’re at. Make the choice to work on your marriage now, tomorrow, and every day after that.

Give your marriage the time and attention that it needs to grow. That’s all I’m saying.

Think about that visual image of the scale and what it means for you, and always be thinking about improving.

Here’s the Next Step…

If you’re tired of being “fine” (or worse), and you want to take positive action to work on your marriage, I strongly encourage you to sign up for our FREE web class:

Click here to sign up for our free web class – How to Start Living Your Dream Marriage Now (No Matter How Busy You Are)

You can choose a time that’s most convenient for you to attend the web class.  We’ll give you the tools and encouragement you need to start pushing up that scale towards the Dream Marriage you desire.

You just have to take the first step.

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