Improve Yourself!

Welcome to week 7 of the challenge, and Happy Valentine’s Day!  This week I want to focus on just how important communication is to success in all areas of our lives.  Let’s see if I can communicate my thoughts effectively… 🙂

Think About Your Areas of Success

When I take some time to reflect on my life and identify areas where I have been successful, I can quickly see that good communication is a key to success.  In my career as a consulting engineer, it’s not math or even reason that sets apart the best engineers and companies.  Nope, it’s the ability to convey complex ideas in understandable terms both in person and in written form.

Engaged Marriage has a lot of growing to do to meet my goals for this site and its reach to married couples throughout the world.  However, I think it’s fair to say that our first 5+ months here have been quite successful.  Obviously, the content is critical for the success of any blog.

Want A Happier Marriage?

Great! Grab our 7 simple steps to improve communication in your marriage (in less than 15 minutes):

But I think the real growth of Engaged Marriage has been fueled by the sense of community that we’ve developed as well as my own efforts in reaching out through social media to colleagues and perspective readers.  I think the recent Love Everyday project provides a good example of this approach.  And it all comes down to a commitment to consistent and effective communication.

The same cause-and-effect exists for most aspects of life: finances, parenting, sports, politics, sales, even war.  High-quality communication is a certain key to success.

And, oh yeah, communication plays a bit of a role in this whole marriage thing as well. 🙂

This week’s book giveaway is centered around the idea that understanding how our spouse/significant other best communicates is a major help in achieving the extraordinary in our relationships. That’s what The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is all about.

While working as a marriage counselor for more than 30 years, Dr. Gary Chapman identified five specific love languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

I bet that even without reading the book you can immediately relate to some of these categories.  Can you already see which areas you speak best in, and which areas apply to your spouse?

The Five Love Languages will lead you through a fun and rewarding process of discovering the love languages in your marriage.  And with that knowledge, you can improve your relationship with your spouse.  See what I mean about the importance of great communication?

This Week’s Awesome Prize

Five Love LanguagesThis week’s giveaway is another awesome book that has the power to change your life. I highly recommend that you read The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Dr. Gary Chapman.  It may be the single most important book you can read for your marriage, aside from The Bible.

Just enter your weekly update in the comments below, and you’ll be eligible to win your own copy of The Five Love Languages. Click the link above to read more about this best-selling book and learn what it can do in your life.

Just a short perfunctory reminder: if you are a participant, you must leave a comment below giving an update on your personal progress. Please do so by Tuesday, February 16th at 11:59 p.m. central time to be eligible for this week’s giveaway. If you are not signed up, feel free to leave a comment anyhow and give your thoughts on this week’s post or your own progress…you just won’t be winning any prizes.

And please don’t forget that you must subscribe to Engaged Marriage via either RSS or Email to be eligible for prizes. There is a secret code at the bottom of the post (just above “Related Posts”) that is only visible if you read this post via an RSS reader or in your email. If you are selected but aren’t subscribed (you don’t know the code when I email you), the prize will instead to go the next person drawn.

Last Week’s Lucky Winner

Congratulations to our lucky winner of the Week 6 drawing:

Kristin who won Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex

Thanks to This Week’s Awesome Sponsors!

The great prizes being given away throughout the challenge are only possible through the generous support of our sponsors. Please take a few minutes to visit this week’s sponsors and check out what they have to offer.

Personal Finance Notebook is a great site created by Patrenia Spears after her family paid off an incredible $93,000 in debt! Her posts are intended to empower her readers to achieve their financial goals. Her tag line says it all: “A website that offers ideas, education and the motivation needed to create a personal finance portfolio to be proud of.

Budgets are Sexy is simply awesome. J. Money provides a site that is packed with really useful info about the world of personal finance, and he does it in his own (pimpin’) way. Entertaining and informative.

Budgets are Sexy

MomStart is a fantastic resource created by a mother of two who provides an incredible amount of reviews, giveaways and writings related to all of the new things going on in the world of parenting.


Enemy of Debt is the place to be if you want to get out of debt or simply celebrate the goodness that your debt-freedom has brought to your life. Brad is a passionate and informative resource offering a unique perspective on the personal finance scene.

Make Mine Happen “Stop Dreaming and Start Doing” by putting the motivational and informational posts at this site to work in your life!

That’s it from me for Week 7 of the challenge! Look for the final Week 8 post next Sunday. Get your progress stated below, visit our sponsors and communicate with passion this week!

Don’t miss the other Improve Yourself posts…here is a running list:

  1. Improve Yourself! 2010 Announcement. This is the place to start and sign-up by leaving a comment with your area of focus.
  2. The Prize List. This is where you’ll get the details about the awesome prizes and learn about our generous sponsors.
  3. Week 1: Set SMART Goals. Learn about smart goal-setting and leave your specific goals for the challenge in the comments.
  4. Week 2: Baby Step Your Way to Success. Learn how you can achieve any goal by breaking it down into small, easier-to-handle tasks.
  5. Week 3: Prioritize Your Time for Progress. Learn the importance of focusing on important, but not urgent, tasks to improve your life and achieve long-term effectiveness.
  6. Week 4: YOU are Responsible for Your Progress. Quit making excuses, take ownership for your results and do the work necessary to make your goals a reality.
  7. Week 5: Don’t Be Perfect, Be Remarkable! You do not need to be perfect, you simply need to be remarkable in what you do. Don’t you think you can be remarkable in the way your handle your finances? In your approach to fitness? In your marriage?
  8. Week 6: Stick With It! I applaud you for sticking with your commitment to yourself and your fellow challenge participants. You are now in the minority as we close in on the finish line. Don’t Quit!
  9. Week 7: Communicate for Success Communication is a certain key to success in nearly all aspects of life.
  10. Week 8: Don’t Accept Mediocrity! Always get better even if it’s only in small increments.  Life is just too short to do otherwise.


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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. Mark finished reading The 5 Love Languages which was an unexpected bonus to this challenge. I didn’t intend for him to read it, but am glad he did. It prompted conversation about what each of our primary languages is, the things that make us crazy, and how much we love each other. I’m realizing the greatest benefit of all is that the last 7 weeks I have been so focused on our marraige and my role in it and as a result we are spending much more quality time together. It is great timing because who knows when the adoption agency will call with a baby for us and I think it is great we are making our relationship a priority prior to baby so we have a good foundation to work with once our lives are turned upside down.

  2. Seems unbelievable that we’re on week seven! Last week was a good week for our finances. I cashed out some government bonds and used the money to pay down some debt. We also filed our taxes and will be paying off an auto loan as soon as the money is returned!

  3. I know I’ve fallen off the wagon in terms of reporting my progress on this site, but it’s only because I’ve had so much action on the job front in the past two weeks. My “Improve Yourself” goal was to work toward a new career path and I’ve done just that. I made a connection with a friend/former co-worker who knew of an opening with her company. In the past two weeks I have had extensive talks with her boss and am expecting an offer from them this week. At this point I am leaning toward going for it but just want to be sure I have all of the needed information first. I will do my best in keeping everyone here updated.

    1. That’s awesome news, Tony! I’m really glad to hear that your efforts are paying off. I look forward to hearing how things turn out for you.

  4. I had a better week on the fitness front this week. I got in three workouts and dropped a pound.

    On a somewhat related note, I have been on a “we need to do something new with our family budget” kick this weekend. I’ve been researching a lot of options and think I settled on one. This also made me realize what an insane amount of eating out I’ve been doing, especially for lunch. Cutting back there should also help my fitness goals.

    On a related note, if you are reading this and you would like to see a post on Engaged Marriage with my experiences in choosing a budgeting program, please let me know!

  5. Last week I kicked butt in achieving my goal. I got all my scheduled writing done, plus more. I did this by making sure I didn’t do any internet reading until I had at least partially filled my quota every day. I’m pretty pleased.
    .-= Kathleen Quiring´s last blog ..Winner of “A Private Affair” =-.

  6. I did quite well with my organizational goals this week. I’m starting to feel like things are coming together. I started organizing my finances by opening a new bank account and getting ready to do my taxes when the rest of my forms are in; I’ve started getting everything ready for when the baby comes, getting my house in order so that I don’t feel swallowed by stuff. My organizational goals for the week include organizing the gifts I received at my baby shower, and making a list of items that we still need, as well as organizing my office.

  7. Another good week. Not a ton of change though. This week has been a bit more adjusting and minor changes to the schedule, but it’s starting to work really well for us. I had hoped it would go a bit smoother finally, but ended up with more of my own school work than I realized and was more stressed and busy than I had anticipated. I went back and double checked a lot of due dates for things and reworked my own personal school schedule to better avoid this situation in the future.
    .-= Cassidy´s last blog ..Quick Takes #7 =-.

  8. Well the beginning of the week went well because we were still snowed in and basically couldn’t spend money. We also ate from our cabinets/fridge/freezer and used up a lot of the food we had forgotten about. This weekend we went out of town though and went over normal food and shopping budgets. We were prepared for it though and will be cutting back this week to make up for it, so it wasn’t a total loss.
    .-= The Northerner´s last blog ..Off We Go! =-.

  9. Even though we got over a foot of snow I trudged outside for over 40 minutes in the blinding sunshine. Twice. Still, I did fall short of my exercise goal but am doing well with healthy eating and have let go of 7 pounds total.

  10. Still maintaining 5 pounds lost.. I lost 4 the first week, so I know I can still meet my overall goal of 8.

    Got a working breast pump now, so that should help!

    Have a great night everybody!

  11. Continuing on the plan for the new year. I have to say the initial excitement has worn down, but I am still down over 25 pounds and still have 15 more to go. I am not giving up but I am definitely still making progress. I also am thinking that I am going to be credit card debit free by next month!!!

  12. I’m doing all right, but I’m really tired of reporting on it every week. I just don’t want to be held accountable because I know that this week won’t go well. My schedule is changing a bit for the week and that will mess things up.

  13. This week I’m so close to going over budget. If I’m a really good girl the rest of the week then I’ll make it but it’s going to take some planning. My goal is to keep variance under 6%. Yeah, I’m at 5%. And I’ve ripped through my blow money. Ugh.

    But on a positive note I have been doing well overall over the past several months and have nearly eliminated all credit card debt. By the end of this month I will have ZERO outstanding balances on all of my cards and I plan on keeping it that way! Even if I have to freeze the cards in a block of ice to reduce temptation…

  14. Funny – reading Five Love Languages was one of my goals! I’m almost finished and it was a very helpful read. My husband is most definitely a Physical Touch and Words of Affirmation guy. And his mom must be Acts of Service, because my husband, just like his dad, is always very helpful around the house (he’s imitating his dad). OK, I’ll be frank; Drew does most of the housework. Yes, I’m a lucky woman. 😉

    Here’s the funny thing; I can’t pinpoint MY love language. I’m thinking it’s Quality Time, because when Drew and I were dating, I was training for a 1/2 marathon and he was a former runner, so we spent hours walking/jogging the local greenway talking. We also did fun activities like hiking Burgess Falls. We don’t do that anymore, not since we had the kids, and I’m starting to think that we need to find a way to get back to that…

    As far as my goals; I think I’ve reached all but my weight goals which, quite frankly, I gave up on completely a few weeks ago. One thing, which wasn’t a goal but I’m proud to report, is the progress our family is making on our Total Money Makeover. I’ve posed a critical question on my blog and would love it if some of the readers here would take a look and comment. I’m just not sure how to proceed and it’s something my husband and I are arguing about. Thanks!
    .-= Kristin Gentry´s last blog ..Update on the Gentry Total $ Makeover =-.

  15. Dustin, thank you for the book! I received it in excellent condition and am enjoying reading the short essays.

    This week was productive and felt almost like a ‘life-turning’ moment for me. I finally sent my manuscript to my editor (and also to my sister, who begged to read it. I have yet to hear back from her. Such a youngest child). I’m waiting to hear back from them before I send out any query letters, but am still researching literary houses/agents/etc. It was absolutely terrifying to email them, but I feel so liberated now! Here’s to a productive week with feedback and many agents across the country receiving an email from me!

  16. Woo! I was almost too late this week! The days got away from me and because of President’s Day yesterday I thought TODAY was Monday, which reminds, me, Krystal, GARBAGE MUST GO OUT TONIGHT!

    Anyway, I don’t have my blog post for this week written yet, but it’s funny that communication is the concept of the week. Hubby and I have been working together this week on a very demanding task: Getting Jordan, who just turned one, to stop waking up in the night to nurse. It’s hard on all of us, except our four-year-old, who could sleep through a war.

    We decided the best way would be for Hubby to get up wtih the baby. Otherwise, when he sees me, he wants to nurse. Even though Hubby is a wreck if he misses any sleep. So, Hubby’s been getting up. My job is to LET HIM DO IT, even though he doesn’t soothe the baby like I would. He refuses to pick up the baby because his point is that if we want him to learn to go to sleep and go BACK to sleep in his bed, he has to go to sleep in his bed. Valid point, but it kills me. It hurts to hear the baby scream and know he wants me and it would be SO EASY to just go in there and nurse for a minute. Instead, I just lay in bed and listen to my Hubby soothing Jordan in his own way, and it works, even though it’s not what I would do.

    Anyway, it’s been a week of real teamwork and the task has taken a lot out of us, but we’re working together as a couple to be better parents. After all, if baby’s getting up three or four times a night, WE are getting up three or four times a night, and it’s not good for any of us.

    So, this is pretty much what has dominated the week.

    Also in the back of my mind is how I need to really take in every moment of the day with my kids and not get annoyed when they do, well, kid things, like spilling milk or “helping” with chores (only to make them worse). Jordan, my baby, turned one a week ago. Yes, the baby I had YESTERDAY turned one, and I’m not sure how that first year is already gone but I already want it back.

    So, I have been savoring all those kid moments, even though I’m tired.

    Oh, and because I’m sort of an idiot sometimes, I decided to de-sugar myself this week of all weeks, the week of the return of the Shamrock Shake and the Paczki. Fun times, but I’ll make it through somehow and be all the stronger for it.

    Boy, sorry, I should have just blogged instead of rambling on and on here!

    Week 7 and it’s still on! 🙂
    .-= Krystal´s last blog ..Sugar fix: Day One food recap =-.

  17. I did ok last week, went running a few times and did a wii fit yoga workout one day. We got 12 inches of snow that put my running on hold at the end of the week. I haven’t been doing so well with the diet since the super bowl we have had to much junk in the house, but its almost all gone. Still at about 10lbs lost during this whole experience.

  18. I had a tough week in the wonderful world of maintanence. We had so many fires to put that we were only able to complete one of our problem solving issues. I was able to help the team get everything running well and show some more on the job problem solving but nothing much in a formal way. So it was a fail for the week, but I’m not giving up yet.

    Take care everyone
    .-= Jeff´s last blog ..Friday Frugal Tip – Netflix vs Cable Movies =-.

  19. Pingback: Set SMART Goals!
  20. Pingback: Baby Step Your Way to Success
  21. Pingback: Improve Yourself! Week 4: YOU Are Responsible for Your Progress
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}