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How to Set a Vision for Your Dream Marriage

By Dustin | Communication

How to Set a Vision for Your Dream MarriageIf you haven’t set a vision for your dream marriage (or haven’t for a long time), you’re in for a real treat.

Humor me for a minute.

Close your eyes and pretend you’re back in those early years of your relationship. Try to picture what a “dream marriage” looks like to your former self.

Paint a picture of what it was like when you were the most happy and enthusiastic about the future.

Maybe it was when you were still dating, or during the first few years of your marriage.

Forget all about the current work or problems you’re dealing with and go back to that time.

Tap into that memory so you can imagine some of those feelings and the outcomes that you wanted so much before life got in the way (or maybe before you became a little jaded).

If you had asked your former selves during that time to set a vision for your dream marriage, what would you have said? What did it mean to you?

What would be ideal – your own personal dream marriage? Why did you choose to get married, and with the person you did?

Whatever you want to call it – your ideal marriage, your dream marriage – what it would look like at the very end of a scale going from 1 to 10.

Although this vision may change over time, it’s something worth getting clear on at every stage of your relationship.

How to Begin to Set a Vision for Your Dream Marriage

There’s a really simple exercise that will bring some clarity to you on what your ideal marriage looks like that will also unlock some really productive conversations with your spouse.

I call it “Your Dream Marriage What-If.”

Here’s how to do it…

Each of you write out and describe an ideal day in your marriage. Do this separately at first, and then both spouses should come together to compare notes.

Imagine and visualize it as you answer these questions:

  • Where would you live, and how would you interact?
  • What would your day together look like?
  • When would you see each other throughout the day?
  • How much sex would you have?
  • How much money would you have?
  • What kinds of activities would you share together?
  • Where are the kids in this picture?

Each of you think about what an ideal day would look like if you could live it, and then compare what you wrote with the other.

Discover What You Really Want

This is something that Bethany and I did once at a retreat, at a point in time when we weren’t that great at communicating. We really weren’t that open with each other.

When we did it, we didn’t know we had to share notes, so we wrote them out separately. Then, we had to sit down knee-to-knee while I read my ideal day to her, and she read hers to me.

It ended up being a life-changing experience.

At the time of this retreat, I was working from home already on my business. She had become a Special Ed teacher and was fantastic at it, and was still paying off her student loans.

Years ago, we had both thought it would be great if she could be a stay-at-home mom. It’s something we had talked about even during our dating years.

It was part of our vision then, but life got busy and we forgot about it. Maybe you know the feeling.

So as I read my notes to her, I said, “It would be so great if you could be home, too. But I know you love your job.”

“You love what you do, you’re excellent at it, and you’ve got great friends at school. So I would never expect you to give that up.”

She was crying.

I thought “Uh-oh…what did I do wrong?”

Then she started to read what she had written. Among a lot of other things, she said, “In an ideal day, I’d be a stay-at-home mom for our kids.”

“But,” she continued, “I know it’s not a financially smart move. We’re trying to get out of debt. And I do love working. I want to be a hard worker, and I want to be a contributor to the finances in our home.”

Wow. I had said it would be ideal, but qualified it in a way. And she had done the same.

Get it All Out in the Open

We had both realized in that moment this was something we wanted very much, but we hadn’t talked about it over the years.

The idea that we should discuss our ideal marriage had quietly fallen back into the shadows, and we had both assumed that the other wanted something different.

This may be the same reason you have not set a vision for your dream marriage.

This was something we wouldn’t have talked about if we hadn’t taken a little time to go through this exercise. It would have stayed as a forgotten dream that we never brought up again.

So, long story short…it took us three and a half years to pay off all of our debts.

When we were pregnant with our third child, we decided that it was time to start. She began to stay at home and raise our children during the day.

This simple exercise quite literally changed the course of our lives!

And, it’s absolutely something you can do to set a vision for your marriage, which will supercharge your communication and fuel your motivation to achieve big goals together.

You’ll find that you both agree on some things that you expected to agree on, and you may disagree on a few things that you didn’t expect.

And that’s healthy, too, because it’s not good to keep it all inside.

Doing this truly helps to discover different aspects of what your ideal marriage looks like, to get these things out, and start talking about them.

Then, you’ll have a shared understanding. And with that, you can begin to set some goals and make progress together from where you are now to where you truly want to be.

So give it a try. Set a time, do it together, and let me know how it goes!

So, What’s Next After You Set the Vision?

Setting a shared vision is a critical first step, and we guide you to exactly how to do it with our Dream Marriage Planner inside of our flagship program Total Marriage Makeover.

If you are looking for a proven way to reconnect, deepen your intimacy and start living YOUR dream marriage, you should definitely check it out. You’ll be amazed at the transformation you can enjoy in just 28 days.

Kids Need to See a Positive Example of Marriage Through You

By Dustin | Communication

Kids Need to See a Positive Example of Marriage Through YouIf you need one more reason to make your marriage a priority now and stop waiting for some distant, perfect time, be an example of marriage for your kids.

We hear so often from parents, usually the mom, saying, “My kids are everything. My kids are my life.”

But in order of priority for us, we put faith first. We put God as #1, then it’s our marriage, then it’s our kids, then it’s our family and friends, and then it’s everything else.

It’s a clear distinction.

Our marriage has to come first, because it’s only by having a wonderful marriage and a loving relationship that we can best raise our kids and be examples for them.

Setting a Positive Example of Marriage

If you think about it, where are your kids going to get a healthy example of marriage and what a happy, functional relationship looks like?

Where is your daughter going to get an example of what it looks like to be respected by a man? Where is your son going to get an example of what it’s like to be loved and respected by a woman?

Is the culture we live in going to give them a positive example of marriage? Are they going to get it from movies, or TV shows?

No way. Even their friends at school or in the neighborhood are probably experiencing a lot of brokenness at home. There’s just not a lot of good examples for them to see of what a relationship is supposed to be.

It’s going to have to be yours. Your relationship – the one they see every day in your household – is always going to be their first and foremost example of marriage.

In my family growing up, we had some bad examples (like really bad), and later in life I was blessed to have some good ones. Even when you know the difference, it’s still very hard not to subconsciously follow the one you saw first.

Do it For You, Your Spouse, and Your Faith

Also, if you’re a Christian, part of our call is to love each other as Christ loved the church. Our love is supposed to be agape love – sacrificial and completely giving.

It’s hard to do that on a day-to-day basis, of course. But when you focus on it, you’re going to do a lot better over time.

That love that you share for each other will definitely transform not only your relationship but your kids, your community, and extends further out from there.

So do it for yourself. Do it for your spouse. Do it for your kids. And, if you’re a person of faith, do it because our faith calls us to.

The Kids are Watching!

Bethany and I had something happen pretty recently with our daughter, Kendall.

She’s the middle child and the shy one of the bunch. Sometimes my wife and I will kiss over the kitchen table in the morning, and she’s the first to say “Eww gross!”

She’ll close her eyes and make a big deal of it.

But then one night after she said her prayers, when it was just Kendall and I in her room, we were doing a gratitude review that we call “What are you thankful for?”

At first, Kendall said she was grateful for ice cream, for having a great day at school…the usual kid stuff. But then she looked at me and said, “I’m thankful because you love Mommy.”

I thought, “Wow.” That meant a lot. I didn’t want to pry, so I left afterwards and got to thinking.

On one hand, I was really happy to hear that we’d set some kind of positive example of marriage for her.

She knows that I love her mom because we’ve made a point to express it without hiding it. We’re not shy about holding hands or kissing in front of the kids and saying “I love you” to the other.

And this is all very positive because it means she feels very secure.

It means we’re demonstrating a model of how she should be treated by her own future partner and what what their interactions should look like that she can reference later on.

But it also made me think, “What has she experienced that’s making her realize this is special?”

Was it maybe a friend of hers at school whose parents aren’t having a great time right now in their relationship? Maybe it’s something she saw in a TV show?

Be the Positive Example of Marriage Your Family Needs

I don’t know the answer.

But I know that finding out she had been noticing our mutual love as husband and wife was something that made it very concrete for Bethany and me. It showed me how important it is that our children always see that love firsthand.

So it pays to always remember…your kids really are paying attention!

It pays in many ways to work on your relationship, not only because of how it will increase you and your spouse’s happiness, but because it’s our first and foremost duty as parents to have a good marriage and show them the way to do the same.

Be the positive example of marriage that your children or other family members need in their life.  In our next post in this series, we’re going to show you how to do just that…stay posted for it.

5 Communication Games Guaranteed to Bring You Closer

By Dustin | Communication

5 Communication Games Guaranteed to Bring You Closer - Dustin Riechmann.001Play Your Way To Better Communication…

“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.

3 Keys to Rebuilding Trust in Your Marriage

By Dustin | Communication

3 Keys to Rebuilding Trust in Your Marriage - Dustin Riechmann - Engaged Marriage.001It doesn’t matter if it’s your spouse, your kid, your co-worker or God – TRUST is just so important to any quality relationship.

Trust is a funny thing. We tend to assume the best for ourselves since we know our intent and the worst in others because we judge based only on the outcomes of their actions.

We can be especially distrusting if we’ve been hurt in the past…and we’ve all been hurt!

Trust Is Dynamic

If I asked you whether you trust your spouse, you could answer as “yes” or “no” (hopefully it’s yes).

But if I asked whether you trust him or her MORE or LESS than you did yesterday…or last year…or on your wedding day…the answer gets a lot more interesting.

That’s because the level of trust in our marriage is always changing.

You are either building up trust and intimacy or you’re letting it erode by your actions (or inaction).

On a day-to-day basis, you can strengthen the trust between you by spending quality time together, talking, having sex, making decisions together and doing all those little things we do together as a couple.

And of course you can slowly lose that trust when you act selfishly, don’t follow through on your promises, withhold sex or miss a date night.

Trust is a fickle beast, but it’s SO important to continue building up.

But It Can Be Broken VERY Quickly

We spend most of our married time making those gradual changes and enriching our trust over time.

But as we know all too well, there are those Trust Bombs that can destroy trust in an instant:

  • Having an affair
  • Lying about money
  • Keeping secrets and getting exposed
  • Talking about your spouse behind their back

In the blink of an eye, years of built-up trust can be destroyed. And it’s difficult to learn to forgive and start back down the road of building up trust and intimacy.

Take Action to Build Up the Trust

Whether you’re simply looking to grow in intimacy and learn how to deepen the trust in your marriage on a day-to-day basis or you’ve been scarred by a major breach of trust, the key is to take action.

Here are three strategies you can use to build or rebuild the trust in your relationship:

1. Bring in Back-Up Help

It’s easy to lose perspective on your own situation when you’re living in it.

Reach out and seek guidance and support from a coach, support group, counselor or trusted friend.  Be sure that any resource you seek out is Pro-Marriage and will work in the best interest of your marriage.

Caution: Do NOT seek out help from those that may make the situation worse.  This would include recently divorced friends, never-married friends or co-workers…

2. Commit to Finding the Good

When you’re feeling pain, it’s difficult to see the good in those that we love – but it’s essential to the reconciliation process.

Commit to giving your spouse at least one encouragement/compliment every day for the next week.  This will help turn the energy in your relationship from negative to positive, plus you’ll be reminded of the positive characteristics of your spouse.

You’ll find it super helpful to keep a journal during this time and track how your actions change the way you see, respect and start to rebuild trust in your husband or wife.

3. Declare that YOU Are Taking Action

In every relationship, there must be a leader when change is required.  Whether your trust was broken or you broke the trust of your spouse in some way, you have the opportunity to repair/forgive the broken trust and move forward.

But it requires commitment and real action.  In time, your spouse will come around but getting started on this path requires you to step up and be a leader in your marriage.

Trust is an essential and sometimes elusive element in every relationship.  

Put these strategies in place to deepen the trust in your marriage and reap the rewards of the contentment and happiness that lie on the other side of the rebuilding process.

The Art of Right Timing in Communication

By Dustin | Communication

You’re in penguin adorned pajamas headed to bed, then your partner starts to talk about their day.

Gritty stuff, but you are already half asleep, thinking of the two paragraphs you will read before being out like a light.

Out of caring, you valiantly try to keep track of the conversation, but you are already 30 minutes past your melatonin spike and starting to drift.

Ideal time for a conversation? Not so much.

Picking the right time, and sometimes place, can be the difference between being heard and your words missing their mark.

Thinking we have communicated but did not, creates resentment and frustration.

This applies to, “Hey, do you mind grabbing some milk on the way home?” as well as to, “I could use some thoughts about how to care for my mom after her surgery.”

Many times a day we speak and believe that our message was delivered. It is unfair to assume that just because you said it, it was heard and integrated. This is especially true if you are trying to communicate during periods of chaos or activity.

We also listen and believe we will process and remember what was said to us, even as we attempt to answer a text and feed the dog at the same time.

If your attention is not there, be honest and ask if you can discuss that at another time, with a specific time determined e.g., “Please give me five minutes, and I can come back with my full attention.”

People are forgetful and deluged with information every day.

Based on how they interact with it, determines how much they remember.

Find the best method for remembering something. If you want me to drop your clothes at the cleaners, leave them by the front door as well as talk to me about it and double check to ensure I heard you.

George Bernard Shaw, recipient of the 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Optimizing for right timing considers some basic factors:

  • What kind of conversation is it?
  • What do you need from it?
  • How much time do you need?
  • When is the best time for both of you for it to take place?

Do you need your partner to deeply remember what you said, including any actions that result, or do you just want to talk and need active listening, empathy and kindness?

Considering mood, even if you have your partner’s full attention, is crucial. Starting a conversation about buying a new car, while you partner just found a banking error will likely not lead to a new car out of the family budget. Give it a few days and then revisit.

When you do find the right time, here are some tips for optimizing the moment.

It may feel silly at first so go ahead and laugh, that makes a connection too:

  • Make eye contact and hold it for at least 10 seconds.
  • Reaching out and touching your partner, even just a brush on the sleeve or your hand on their heart, creates a connection.
  • Engage with words. A simple “hi” works and “I’m glad we have a few minutes to talk,” works too.

Create routine and structure around making time to talk.

Perhaps you take 15 minutes every evening to go over the day and talk about the next one. Deeper issues can be tackled as well as determining who is picking up the kids from school. Identify how you will work to create the routine together and find ways to keep each other accountable. If you have conflicts, reschedule the time, but avoid skipping it. That too becomes a habit.

Some ideas:

  • Give the time a visual cue. Put a note on the fridge, a cheesy decal that makes you smile on the bathroom mirror or if tech is your thing, make it an event in your calendar so it shows up on your phone or computer.
  • Tell your children and other family members that the time is set aside for you and unless there is something critical, it will remain sacred.
  • Find a place in your home that is comfortable to sit and see each other undisturbed, even if you ban the other household members from the kitchen and you set up two camp chairs.
  • Bring a beverage or dessert to the conversation and make that part of your ritual.
  • Take an evening walk together.

Right timing at its heart is an exercise in empathy and understanding.

What do I need and what does my partner need?

Do they look tired?

Am I just piling on what is already a full pile?

How can we make room for us in the pile?

Creating a safe space build on trust is important and allows each of you to say not now when needed or I need more without threatening the confidence in the partnership.

Asking to have your big and small needs met is a great first step, but setting each other up for success in meeting those needs is the second.

SANDRA FISCHER is the creator of Relationship Reveal: 64 Cards for Discovery, Skill-Building, and Growth, a new card game that gets to the heart of what matters in happy, healthy relationships.

Sandra writes for businesses, creates fiction and consults in communications, people development and optimizing organizational effectiveness. With 25 years of experience working for companies including Microsoft, Amazon and AT&T, her experiences have been as unique and broad as managing the homepage for Amazon.com to developing an online marketing campaign for a literary novel launch.