Dustin – Page 5 – Engaged Marriage

All Posts by Dustin


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.

How to Establish Healthy Communication Before Tying the Knot

By Dustin | Communication

How to Establish Healthy Communication Before Tying the Knot

Once again, the American Psychological Association tells us what we have known for some time: Roughly half of all marriages in the US end in divorce.

Exactly 0% of young couples getting married care to hear about the percentage of marriages that end in divorce.

This makes it almost inevitable that the cycle will repeat itself for some time without end.

While eliminating divorce altogether is not a reasonable goal, we could reduce it greatly by considering the marriages that end in death do us part.

The one and done marriages seem to have at least this one thing in common: The successful couple has mastered the art of communication.

As with everything, there are always isolated exceptions. But in general, great communication is the hallmark of a successful marriage.

The thing is, that communication didn’t start after the words, I do, were spoken.

Productive communication in marriage begins at the dating stage, and possibly before that.

Here are a few things that need to be successfully communicated before tying the knot:

Personal Tastes

If you don’t know your wife’s favorite color in year one, you might have a hard time making it to year two. It is a basic point of knowledge that should be assumed at a certain point in the relationship.

While such things may seem trivial, matters of taste will affect everything from where you live to family diet.

You should already have the basics of her personal tastes down cold long before you present the engagement ring. Perhaps she would flip for one of those morganite engagement rings with rose gold. But you can’t make that assumption simply because it is highly fashionable and stunning in every lighting condition.

She may prefer something in amethyst due to that being her birthstone and favorite color.

Remember? She told you all about how it was her mother’s favorite color and…

Well, you may have stopped listening at that point. And that’s a problem. Because knowing your partner’s preferences is a sign that you have been paying attention.

And not knowing is a sign that you haven’t been. Knowing personal preferences is the foundation of everything else to come.


A dislike is not exactly the opposite of a preference. You can know that your partner loves cabbage without knowing that they hate lettuce.

Often, especially in the dating process, a person will withhold their dislikes in order to appear more agreeable. They may go as far as to pretend that they like a food that they really hate.

Unfortunately, this always leads to bigger problems down the road.

Dislikes develop into resentments. And before you know it, you can’t share your dislikes without starting WWIII with your partner.

The key to avoiding this is to start during the dating process. Be honest about your likes and dislikes.

Risk having the friction during the dating phase rather than bringing that friction into the marriage.

This is a good time to set expectations early. Make your feelings clear about things like:

* Spending

* Neatness

* Children

* Religion

* TV & entertainment

It is not fair to blame your partner for pushing all your dislike buttons in marriage counseling if you never made them clear while dating.


Is your idea of retirement the exit from corporate life, and the occupation of the world’s finest beaches by age 65?

There is nothing wrong with that view of retirement unless, that is, you happen to be married to someone who considers that sloth. Perhaps they think everyone should work until they die. After all, the great men of the Bible didn’t retire.

I officially abstain from the debate that you and your spouse are going to have about this issue. But if you would like to avoid it, have the discussion about finances while you are dating.

Talk about the following:

* Saving money

* Investing

* Dual vs. single income

* Frivolous spending

Sonya Britt, a Kansas State University researcher, concluded that arguing about money is the top predictor of divorce.

Being well-financed does not mean your marriage will last forever. But communicating effectively about money is a big help.

That, along with personal preferences and dislikes, are things that should be worked out long before hiring a caterer.

What’s Love Got To Do With It: 4 Reasons Why You Need To Have The Money Talk

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

whats-love-got-to-do-with-it-4-reasons-why-you-need-to-have-the-money-talkMoney…finances…not something that most couples really want to talk about.

Some avoid it until there’s a problem. Others never talk about it.

Why is that?

Well, because money talk isn’t romantic.

It isn’t sexy. It isn’t glamorous and it surely isn’t fun…well unless you won the lottery maybe.

If you’re like most couples, you cruise along, blissfully focusing more on the “important” things – communication, quality time, building a life.

As intoxicating as all that is, the fact is, the life you want costs money.

You’ve probably talked about where to live, whether to have kids, how you’ll parent your kids, career plans and so on.

But have you talked about how to pay for all those dreams?

As unromantic as it sounds, including money in the discussion can be one of the best ways to armor up your marriage for those times when things get tough.

So what does your love have to do with money? Everything.

The Balance of 50/50

There’s a notion that relationships should always be equal…50/50. Each person wants to feel as if they are contributing and that their partner is doing the same.

But what does equal – 50/50 – mean in your relationship in terms of financial issues?

Partners rarely bring exactly the same financial resources to the relationship.

What is “equal” when one makes more than the other or contributes non-monetarily is very subjective. How does 50/50 work then?

Your idea of 50/50 may be completely different from what your spouse sees as equal. Having this discussion early on can head off a lot of future skirmishes.

Yours, Mine and Ours

When you’re talking about managing money in a relationship, you’re talking about trust…financial intimacy.

It’s more than discussing how much is in the checking account this week. It’s an ongoing conversation about wants and needs and how to fund those things.

Simple right? Well, no.

What complicates it is that each of you has your own wants and needs and dreams that you have to weave into the fabric of your relationship.

Money carries all kinds of meaning for people – security, safety, independence, freedom or control for example.

You need understand what money means to each of you and prepare for how the finances will be handled. You want to make sure that you are compatible in the way you view spending and saving.

There is no right or wrong answer. The only answer is the one that works for the two of you.

What’s The Plan?

Part of a stable, loving marriage is planning your future together. That life costs money.

Your money and how you manage it will play a huge role in how your future plans unfold.

Discuss the plan early in the relationship. It’s never too soon to plan.

You want to plan for the good and the unexpected.

You’ll learn an awful lot about how the two of you communicate and negotiate money matters.

When you’re part of the plan, you’re invested in the plan.

Discuss the plan often. Over time, priorities change as the relationship grows. Kids come along. You buy that dream house. One of you loses your job.

You may need to make some adjustments for those unexpected things that come along. If you’ve laid a good foundation, you’re more likely to weather the storm when the unexpected happens.

Keep It Simple

Money problems can make or break even the strongest loves. Money issues are consistently one of the top reasons cited for marital discord and for divorce.

Money is something you and your spouse use every day.

It shapes the life you live. It makes sense to talk about it. Left to linger, money issues will continue to pop up and become the source of many an argument. Over time, they can destroy an otherwise happy marriage.

How you approach the topic isn’t as important as your attitude going in.

Remember, your spouse is your partner, not the enemy. Give each other permission to bring up money questions or concerns.

Trust that you have each other’s back. When you know you’re a team, defenses come down and you’re more likely to get to the heart of the matter.

Want a simple step-by-step plan to gain financial security for your family?

Visit https://www.engagedmarriage.com/money-plan/ to learn more about an exciting program designed to bring you greater financial security and more time to spend with your family.


Money and how you manage it will shape the life you build together. Make sure you’re tending your marital money relationship with tender loving care.

4 Key Areas to Focus On as an Engaged Couple

By Dustin | Marriage Preparation

Relationships, like life, are complex.

What works for one couple may not work particularly well for you.

Everyone’s relationship is unique and to be quite honest, that’s what makes them special.

Though there is no one-size-fits-all solution to preparing for a successful marriage, there are core elements that help to create a foundation for love and prosperity.

If marriage is in your immediate future, you’ll want to learn these key elements to building a better relationship.

Core Values and Beliefs

Your core values and beliefs help to create the very person that you are today. Without them, it can be especially easy to lose yourself in a relationship, crippling your ability to flourish.

Before stepping into the commitment of forever with someone else you should totally have a sense of self, know who you are, what you believe in and what you stand for.

Resources like therapy and faith organizations can be instrumental in helping you further understand and define those beliefs.

Christian counseling, for instance, can help you to learn to cope with your relationship in a manner closely related to your core values and beliefs as a Christian. Attending religious gatherings allows you to connect with others who share values and beliefs which can ultimately help you to have a better sense of self.

Effective Communication

Everyone can talk by the time they’re just a few years old. However, talking is not the same as communicating effectively.

If you enter into a relationship with someone and all you do is talk, your relationship will not flourish and ultimately may not last.

Communication is just as much about listening as it is about talking.

You must learn how to effectively listen to your partner, understand where they’re coming from, and respond from a place of love. In doing so, you’ll avoid a lot of arguments, and more importantly, show your spouse to be that their voice does matter in the relationship.

Learning how to be an effective communicator can take some practice, and you’ll need to learn how your partner gives and receives information, be comfortable expressing yourself (and provide a comfortable atmosphere for your partner to express themselves, and much more.

Games, how-to guides, and even just asking questions can help you to learn the best methods for communicating with your spouse to be.

Strong Sense of Self

One of the biggest issues in a relationship is insecurity.

When one or both partners don’t have a strong sense of self and lack confidence, it can begin to weigh on the other. It is ultimately your uniqueness that your partner loves.

When you feel less than about yourself, you rely on your partner for validation, happiness, and everything in between which can be a lot for them to bare.

Before walking down that aisle, get up close and personal with the man or woman in the mirror. Find out what makes you tick, your likes and dislikes, your goals and ambitions.

The more you learn to love yourself, the easier it is for you to fall in love with your partner.


As much as you might read about marital and relationship problems, they’re not as bad as some make it out to be.

A marriage isn’t supposed to be about all the things you can’t do anymore, but more about the things you can.

You and your spouse to be will be bonded for life and should enjoy this new life together. Find ways to have fun outside of the normal routine.

A couple who plays together stays together. Try to keep things fun and exciting in your relationship. Go to karaoke, take trips, have a game night at home, whatever you do, just smile and have a good time.

As you get ready to get married to the love of your life, keep these relationship elements in mind.

Sure, any relationship will take work and marriage only multiples the amount of work required. However, if you both have strong core values and beliefs, a strong sense of self, the ability to effectively communicate, and the willingness to let your hair down every once in awhile, your relationship and marriage will last a lot longer.

Money, Money, Money: How to Structure Your Finances as a Couple

By Dustin | Finances & Careers

Statistically speaking, the most common subject that couples fight about is money.

So, have you and your partner been arguing and can’t seem to agree on what to do with your finances?

Know that you are far from alone.

There are plenty of reasons that a couple will fight about money. Perhaps you both come from very different financial backgrounds that each affect your outlook on spending and saving.

Maybe you have very different ideas about how to save for the future.

Maybe you even agree about spending and saving but one of you is good about tracking while the other is terrible at tracking.

Whatever the reason for the disagreement, know that it is not nearly as important as how you decide to deal with it.

Here are several popular options that have helped reduce the money-related bickering for other couples.

Explore Your Options – Joint or Separate Accounts

We’ve discussed the topic of whether to use joint or separate bank accounts extensively here at Engaged Marriage.

While many couples would benefit from sharing a main account, there are circumstances where separate checking, savings or credit accounts might make sense for you.

If you do already have joint accounts, you can consider consolidating those accounts and paying them off if you do decide to separate your finances. The experts at CreditSoup recommend using a balance transfer to do this – preferably into an account with benefits like zero interest, etc.

If you’re separating your money, it’s worth consolidating your joint accounts into two new accounts, one for each of you to manage.

This way the balance still remains a joint responsibility and won’t fall solely to one of you to manage.

Hybrid Financial Management

This is a popular option for couples who like the idea of sharing expenses even though they know that their approach to financial management is wildly different.

Hybrid Financial Management is where a couple opens up a joint account while still maintaining their individual accounts.

Both partners agree to automatically transfer a portion of their income into the joint account and that the account will only be used to cover the cost of joint expenses.

Rent or mortgages, family phone plans, etc. – all of these can be managed from the joint account. You can also pay bills for any other joint credit cards, loans, etc. from here.

Figuring out how much each of you should contribute to the joint account can be tricky.

Typically this is done in one of two ways:

1. You each put an equal portion of every paycheck into the account. If your incomes are the same (or close) this is the easiest option.

2. You figure out how much the account needs to have in it to cover your joint expenses, divide that number in half and then each of you is responsible for contributing your half to the account. This is better for partners whose incomes aren’t equal.

Once you’ve both contributed your decided amount to the joint account whatever you have leftover is yours to spend without your partner giving you grief or judging your spending.

Having The Talk

One of the best ways to avoid conflict, of course, is to talk about your individual approaches to money as early on as possible. For many of us talking about money is exceedingly uncomfortable.

We’ve been taught most of our lives, after all, that talking about money is a huge no-no. Still, if you’re planning to merge your futures together, talking about money sooner rather than later is a must.

If nothing else, you should sit down to talk about money when things are calm and not during a fight (the subject of the fight is irrelevant here).

Having a calm discussion about how best to manage your financial life together can help alleviate any fears, address any concerns, and make sound financial plans before problems occur.

Remember: just because couples completely joined their finances in the past that doesn’t mean you have to do that now. Figure out an arrangement that works for both of you and stick to it.

Tending Your Marriage Garden: 3 Things You Need To Do Now

By Dustin | Romance


Have you ever seen a plant sitting on a shelf in someone’s office… droopy, sad, leaves scattered all on the floor?

You probably looked at that fading little plant and wondered who was supposed to take care of it.

Maybe they forgot? Maybe they don’t know how? Or maybe they just don’t care?

When the person got the plant, they were probably happy, watered it and made sure it had ample sunlight.

Over time, other things took priority… and the plant, waiting for attention and left on it’s own, began to wither away.

You’re probably wondering what this little plant has to do with a healthy marriage.

The short answer is: EVERYTHING.

When your marriage is shiny and new, we spend lots of time growing it. We nurture it, protect it and work hard at planting the seeds of our future.

Inevitably, challenges and distractions occur…

We get comfortable and complacent.

Left unattended, those tender seedlings of love wither, leaving a barren emotional landscape and leaving the one you love wondering what happened.

So, much like the little plant, marriages need regular loving care and feeding. They need tending to by their owners (you and your spouse).

The happiest couples know that tending to their marriage is the best way to create a healthy, sustainable and fulfilling relationship. They make tending their marriage a priority.

Tending your marriage is much more than going on dates and sharing intimate moments.

It’s more than having sex.

Tending your marriage means doing those things that heal, nurture and strengthen your marriage… doing the things that will keep your relationship thriving season after season.

Pull the Weeds

Nothing will choke a garden quicker than weeds. Every garden has them and there’s only one way to deal with them: pull them and pull them often.

If you wait, they’ll overrun your garden.

Old wounds, unresolved problems, neglected intimacy… even those little aggravations are the weeds in your marital garden.

Avoid dealing with them and they’ll invade every emotional space of your relationship.

But weed gently… ripping a weed out by the roots leaves nothing but a big hole to fill.

Take time to talk with your partner about problems. Check in with each other often. The important thing is to communicate in meaningful ways.

Communication is like water for relationships. Without it, they wither away.

Above all, be genuine in your conversations.

  • Speak from the heart… and from a place of love.
  • Find resolution to old wounds.
  • Forgive each other’s little imperfections.
  • Apologize with sincerity if you need to.

And find that place of healing and reconciliation.

Feed Your Marriage Well

Just like a garden needs to be fed regularly to stay healthy… your marriage needs to be fed emotionally to remain vibrant and strong.

You probably fed it well early on… now you just need to remember how.

Everyday kindness is fertilizer for a thriving marriage.

Speak kindly to each other. Say “thank you” when your spouse does something nice for you.

Do the little things that please each other. Cook his favorite dish. Bring her a flower from the garden.

Sincerely compliment each other.

Focusing on the positives and all that is right in your marriage lays the foundations for a marriage that will thrive.

Kindness, forgiveness and gratitude put down deep emotional roots and keep your marriage growing strong. 

Hire a Landscaper

Sometimes no matter how hard you work at tending your garden, it just won’t grow. You can scratch your head and wonder what to do and give up or you can call in a professional landscaper.

There is no shame in asking for support. Every marriage has challenges.

An expert can help you address the weed problem and help you find the care and plan that works best for your marriage. 

Having people to reach out to can be a comforting, healing resource.

A safe space to “talk it out” can make you more confident for even the most difficult conversations and be a great place to share successes!

A well-tended marriage will grow strong and yield a bountiful harvest. Its beauty will draw you in and become your refuge from the world outside.

Ready to learn more practical tips, tools and resources for a vibrant and thriving marriage?

Learn more about our brand new community designed to let you live your best life together. 

Don’t go at it alone… join The Engaged Marriage Movement today for the best training, support and marriage-building community in the word:


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