Dustin – Page 82 – 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.

Take 15 Minutes Each Day to Just be a Couple

By Dustin | Romance

Trust me, I know how busy your life as a married couple can be.Take 15 Minutes Each Day to Just be a Couple

With work, family, extracurricular activities, exercise, kids, cooking, household chores and all of the other tasks we have to complete each day, it seems like there’s no time for anything else.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you must make time for one more thing…fortunately, just 15 minutes each day will do the trick.

That’s only 1% of the time you have available each day, so you know it’s realistic.

Couple Time is a Must

You need to make some time each day to be a couple instead of parents, employees and whatever other roles you play each day.

Your marriage is more important than your children or your career, so you need to start nourishing it.

Your marriage must come second (just behind your relationship with God if you share that belief), and it cannot be allowed to slide to any less priority in your everyday life.

15 Minutes, Really?

Find just 15 minutes each day to sit without distractions and talk to your spouse about your day, your thoughts, your dreams and whatever else you feel like sharing as long as you are engaged in an intimate conversation.

And please be sure that your conversation doesn’t revolve around things that need to be done around the house, the kids’ school activities or any other “responsible” meeting topics.

This time is for you to talk about your individual thoughts and your desires as a couple.

Find the Time

The first step in this fun little adventure in romance is to identify where you’ll find your 15 minutes.

Well, it starts with the right perspective.

What if you found out that you had to spend 15 minutes each day getting a medical treatment that you needed to survive?

Less dramatically, what if you could voluntarily give this time to help your spouse achieve a great deal of happiness? Or pump up your own happiness, get rid of stress and feel fulfilled?

You can find the time. After all, we are literally only talking about 1% of your day here!

To get you started, here are some areas where you might be able to cut back a bit:

  • Watch less television (this should do it for most of us)
  • Cut out 15 minutes of mindless web surfing (this should take care of the rest)
  • Check Facebook less often or update your Pinboards a bit less frequently
  • Focus at work so you can leave a bit earlier
  • Only check your email twice per day (this can be a HUGE time saver)
  • Cut down on video games
  • Exercise at home instead of driving to the gym
  • Put the kids to bed 15 minutes early
  • Wake up 15 minutes early
  • Quit reading Engaged Marriage – this is an absolute last resort and is not recommended! 🙂

When we decided to make this 15 minutes of “couple time” a priority in our marriage, we simply made sure the kids were in bed at a consistent time each evening and spent our time together before we did anything else.

We found that all of our other responsibilities can easily wait for a measly 15 minutes.

This is our sacred time for each other and the key to staying engaged in our marriage – and we wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Beyond Daily Time

While 15 minutes per day should do the trick, I further encourage you to schedule a date night once every week or two. It doesn’t have to be an expensive or elaborate outing.

While it is preferable to get away from the house and all of the “to-do’s” it represents, you don’t necessarily even have to go out.  Your date night can be as simple as cooking dinner together and sharing a bottle of wine, or just watching a movie together after the kids go to bed.

The important thing is that you are engaged in your relationship and focused on appreciating each other as a couple for at least a short time each week.

There you have it:  spend a measly 15 minutes being a couple each day, and you’ll feel closer than ever.  Throw in a fun date night just once per week and you will be on your way to having an awesome marriage for life.

See, it’s not hard to be Romantic after all!

Need Some Ideas for the Best Way to Spend Your 15 Minutes?

Click here to learn how you can refresh your marriage and rock your communication, romance, sex life and finances in just 15 minutes a day…

15 Minute Marriage Makeover

Be Consistent with Child Discipline or Be in the Doghouse!

By Dustin | Children , Communication

Good Discipline for Children or Else

Our family enjoyed a (mostly) relaxing Labor Day weekend spent camping, fishing and visiting with lots of family.  However, due to my own shortcomings, the trip ended on a bit of a sour note that reminded me of the importance of good listening (especially to my dear wife…who will likely read this at some point…did I mention she is beautiful?) and consistency when disciplining our children.

It all started innocently enough.  My son was enjoying some morning fishing time with his Grandpa, and he developed an affinity (okay, maybe borderline obsession) with the plastic “fishy” fishing lures in the tackle box he was supposed to be sitting on.  Don’t worry, these were without hooks so they were mostly safe if you discount their apparent addictive properties.

So, we have a four-year-old boy rapidly “collecting” small plastic fish of a truly alluring variety.  Well, at some point a limit was established and the little guy was mostly okay with his three new pets.  A bit later, he decided he needed just one more fish (or so I thought), a small piece of sparkly gold in his eyes.

Listen to your wifeWhile I was enjoying a few moments of semi-peace in a nearby lawn chair, I overheard his (very dear) mother sternly telling the child that no more fish would removed from the tackle box.  No more fish!  I said no more!  If you can’t listen, you’ll just have to be in timeout.  And to timeout he went.  Fair enough, he deserved some discipline and needed to chill out.

Enter Daddy O’ The Doghouse

And here’s where Daddy gets his dog bone.  My son served his time in the penalty box with honor.  Upon discharge, he approached the forbidden box of tackle.  Ah, don’t worry Mama, Daddy’s got this situation under control.  What we need here is a grand solution, a win-win, a use of superior intellect to fool this child into believing he is getting his way while actually advancing the parental motives.  Brilliant!

In my best Daddy-knows-best voice, I tell the young man that he cannot have any additional fishing lures.  However, he may elect, if he so chooses, to trade in his three fish for the single sparkly fish of his heart’s great desire.  At this point, I can see a real role in world politics and peace-building in my future.  And the young, naive boy took the offer with zest!

The Great Negotiator?  Maybe Not.

A few moments later, I get “the look” as Mama has seen the new sparkly fish.  I can tell this is not a good reaction, but I am puzzled.  I have not added a fish to his collection.  No way, I’ve actually reduced the number of outstanding lures by two.  What could be the problem here?

I was sternly informed that the original argument was over the proposition the young boy had made to make a trade for a different fish.  At first, I think, “Wow, this kid is brilliant…a chip off the old block.”  Then I believe the color began to leave my face as I realized what I had done.

Parent skills should be rewardedWith a single act of not listening fully (and not asking later), I had contradicted my wife’s worthy parental discipline.  I had given our son exactly what he wanted after he had been disciplined for not taking no for an answer earlier.  This was clearly a bad move that served as a poor example of consistent parenting.  Ouch.  Bad Dad, Bad.

So, into the Doghouse of shame I was sent for most of the drive home from the campsite that morning.  And rightfully so, as I had made a fairly serious parenting mistake simply by not listening well.  To my wife’s credit, she threw me a bone and let it go pretty quickly.  Did I mention she is a great wife, smart and witty, gorgeous too…

Doghouse photo courtesy of ClicPhoto Studio; Tackle Box photo courtesy of jasonippolito; Dog Bone photo courtesy of ktylerconk

Marriage as a Vocation

By Dustin | Spirituality

Marriage as a Vocation

What comes to mind when you think of a vocation?

How about vocation in the context of a marriage?

If you are like most people, and especially if you happen to share my status as a member of the Catholic Church, you probably think of a priest (or possibly a nun).

When you add marriage into the mix, your thoughts may shift slightly to the particular clergy that performed your wedding ceremony or your current pastor.

In church, we often hear about the need for additional vocations or calls to the religious life.  It seems that “vocation” is basically synonymous with “calling” which again leads us to the idea of a young man or woman being called by God to a life of religious service.

If you read about career coaching or seek guidance in this area, you may come across a slightly different idea.

Many career coaches like to break down the approach to work into three areas from broadest to most specific: vocation, career and job, where vocation is your overall “calling” or purpose for working.

Well, if you look up “vocation” on dictionary.com, here is what you’ll find:

1. a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.
2. a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.
3. a divine call to God’s service or to the Christian life.
4. a function or station in life to which one is called by God: the religious vocation; the vocation of marriage.

I was actually a bit surprised by this result as I expected only the first 3 1/2 definitions to show up.  The last half of the fourth definition was a pleasant surprise, as this was my point in creating this post!

If you are married (or engaged to be married), you need to start viewing your marriage as your vocation.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, I think it is helpful to understand that your marriage is the central function of your life (see #4) and your most important calling (see #1).

Your marriage must come above all things including your career, your friends and even yourself.

That is unless you do share my belief in God.  In that case, marriage must be your second priority behind only He who created marriage.

After all, it was God who brought you together with your spouse and formed a divine Trinity.

Yes, a Trinity.  He invited you to a sacrament that permanently transformed you from two individuals into an inseparable loving relationship that includes you, your spouse and the Big Guy.

I know that’s some heavy stuff, but I personally believe that is where marriage fits into a Christian life (see #3).

So, I hope next time you hear someone use the word “vocation” it reminds you of your own calling from God. 

Don’t ever forget where your marriage belongs in your long list of priorities in life.  And strive everyday to treat your spouse like a true member of the Trinity that has been created just for you.

Photo by YourDreamTouch Photography

Marriage and Great Communication: Ageless Advice from Aged Couples

By Dustin | Communication

Marriage and Communication

Have you ever attended a wedding reception where they have a dance for married couples and the D.J. makes the couples sit down based on the length of their marriage?  First, the newlyweds are gone, then the 5-year whippersnappers, then the measly 10-year marriages, then 20, 30, 40…and then it gets interesting.

Once you get into the 50-year plus range of marriage, you are dealing with some major geriatric wonders.  I mean these people have not only lived for 70, 80 or even 90 years, but they have survived more than a half a century of marriage…with the same person.

My wife and I have been to a lot of weddings over the course of our relationship, and I can honestly say that I have grown to appreciate the “Anniversary Dance” more and more through the years.  No, it’s not the music, which is generally pretty lame so as to keep pace with said geriatric wonders, it’s the candid marriage advice that the winning couple is asked to give to the newly married bride and groom after the dance (and before they’re allowed to sit down and rest).

Ageless Advice

Almost invariably, the man answers the request for the best advice they have to offer with something along the lines of “Do what she says” or “Listen to her and you won’t get hurt” or some other short quip that old men tell best.

The woman usually seems just a bit embarrassed by the attention and the need to speak into a microphone, but with a quick gaze into the eyes of her long-time husband (who at this point is really feeling the ache in his knees and badly wants to sit down) she gives her advice.

And from my experience, the elder bride sums up her marriage advice with something similar to “Don’t go to bed angry” or “Always communicate well with each other.”

There you have the golden marriage advice that holds true for every generation: Great Communication makes a Great Marriage. Take a look at all of the blog categories listed on the sidebar of this website (these will continue to grow as I fill in the blanks with new posts): Finances, Sex, Spirituality, Children, Marriage Preparation, Household Management, Individual Fulfillment and Romance.  These are the major issues facing our marriages, and every critical topic requires solid communication for success.

Stay tuned for a variety of posts and great resources related to having awesome and open communication in your marriage.  In the meantime, remember that the first rule is that communication is a two-sided coin that requires both effective talking and excellent listening.  Even after 50-plus years of marriage, those old, happy couples that we can all admire still remember Rule #1 and recognize its timeless value.

Photo courtesy of maveric2003

Marriage, Sex and Family Planning

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

Family Planning and Children

If there is one subject related to marriage that I love to talk about, it’s sex! 🙂 Don’t worry (or be disappointed depending on how warped your mind may be), I am not referring to anything dirty or inappropriate here.  Instead, I am talking about how healthy sexuality should play a key role in a vibrant and successful marriage.

Of course, it is difficult to talk about sexuality and marriage without also discussing the issue of family planning and decisions related to bringing children into this world.  Good news!  I also have a passion for this subject and feel like I can offer a great deal of practical and hopefully comforting advice on this topic.

It just so happens that my wife and I are regular presenters on the topic of Sexuality and Family Planning in the marriage preparation class offered by our church. In fact, it was our involvement in this program, along with our interaction with many engaged and married couples, that inspired the creation of the Engaged Marriage blog and website.

You will find a lot of valuable resources related to having a healthy sexual relationship and finding the right family planning approach for your marriage in this category.  In particular, I hope to shed some light and spread the word about the family planning method that my wife and I have chosen: Natural Family Planning (NFP).

Whether for practical, moral, health, religious, financial or other reasons, many couples are not comfortable with their current forms of family planning.  This was an issue that we struggled with for the first four years of our marriage until we were blessed to discover (through a rather interesting journey) the practice of Natural Family Planning. I can hardly wait to share both the benefits and challenges of NFP, especially the fantastic positive effect it was had on our marriage and our overall relationship.  However, I am told that blog posts are best left shorter and sweeter, so I will save that for another day (but soon).

Before I wrap up this introductory post on Marriage, Sex and Family Planning, I did want to alert you to keep an eye out for what I feel will be a unique review of a product we have decided to use, the Clearblue Easy Fertility Monitor.  While we have successfully used Natural Family Planning for more than four years now to both quickly conceive and effectively space-out our two children, we feel like adding this monitor to our “toolbox” may help add another level of quality and effectiveness (especially since we are thinking of trying for Baby #3 soon).

I plan to purchase one of these from Amazon (based on their price and shipping offers) in the next few days, so we can start trying it out so stay tuned for updates.  If you are interested in reading more about this monitor or possibly purchasing one, you can click on the links for the MonitorClearblue Easy Fertility Monitor, the SticksClearblue Easy Fertility Monitor Sticks or the Monitor and Test Sticks Combo Package.

Photo courtesy of christine [cbszeto]