MARRIAGE

Creating Balance Creates Peace and Harmony

I’ve grown tremendously in the nine years that I have been married. I’m sure there were seasons in our marriage when my husband was on the brink of sleeping on the “corner of the roof”. For us, life took off fast! I had to immediately learn how to balance mommy life and wife life. I have a bonus son and just after our first anniversary we welcomed our first daughter. Amid it all, I was also an ambitious career woman who wore many other hats in my community. I struggled to balance my competing priorities during the early years of our marriage.  I desired to be an amazing wife who cooked, helpmate, and ensured we had our quality husband and wife time.  On the other hand, I wanted to be an amazing mom who spent as much time with my kids as possible. I found myself dropping the ball all over the place and I became frustrated and irritable. Sadly, my husband took the brunt of my frustration.  My actions were that of the Proverbs 25 wife, quarrelsome.  I was quick to argue out of frustration and burn out.   Looking back on this season, I realized that my life lacked balance and the appropriate systems in place for me to succeed in my roles.  Here are 4 ways to create balance so you can have a peaceful and harmonious marriage.   Prioritize your Husband I’m a planner mom.  I love planning out my months, weeks, and days.  I noticed that I would plan my kid’s activities, work priorities, personal commitments and there was rarely anything planned for our marriage.  I’ve since made changes and now I ensure we have scheduled family discussions, date nights, and activities. Prioritizing your marriage sets the tone for a productive marriage.  Remember this cadence, God. Husband. Children! If you remember this hierarchy it will help you to balance your competing priorities. Minimize Frustration Frustration also has a compounding effect when left unchecked. The more you dwell in your frustration the more quarrelsome you can become. Recognize what triggers your frustration and implement ways to mitigate them. You can start by focusing on your mindset.  When you are feeling overwhelmed focus on what is going right and divert attention from what may be going wrong.  This simple adjustment is powerful. Balance Balance is not a bad word.  We can create balance by being intentional with the activities, responsibilities and the commitments you take on.  Ensure commitments align with your goals, family goals, and objectives for the current season.  It is equally important for husbands and wives to be on one accord in terms of what balance looks like for their family. As a bonus, look for opportunities to streamline your daily routines.  Take a week or two and evaluate your processes for cooking, cleaning etc. and look for opportunities to streamline and reduce the stress related to those activities. When you find yourself tipping the balance scales of wife life, mommy life, work, etc, pivot and adjust quickly. Give yourself Grace to Grow Allow your marriage and your life to evolve and grow. Focus on the season that you are in a grow through your challenges.  Take mental note of the lessons learned so that you won’t repeat them in future season. Once you find your rhythm you will enjoy a more peaceful and harmonious marriage. Debranetta Howard is the founder of Career Mom Community, a support community, blog and educational hub focused on providing resources and strategies for working moms to be successful in all areas of their lives.  Her mission is to help moms from all backgrounds to navigate life strategically for the benefit of their families and professional goals. Mrs. Howard also provides coaching and consulting to ambitious moms in need of action plans and road maps that lead down a path of both growth and development.Mrs. Howard has been featured on numerous Podcast and has delivered her keynote speech, “The Truth About Balance for Working Moms and Mompreneurs” to audiences along the east coast.  You can follow Career Mom Community on FB and follow Debranetta on IG at CoachD_theCareerMom.  

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two hearts connected by speaking love languages

3 Reasons To Speak Your Husband’s Love Language

  Speaking Your Husband’s Love Language Improves Communication Carlos and I were given the assignment to read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman when we went through pre-marital counseling. Our marriage has had its share of challenges but when we made the decision to stay together, I realized that we needed to go back to the basics. How I Am Learning to Love Again I wiped the dust off of this book and decided that I needed to rediscover my husband so that I could gain a better understanding of how best to communicate with him. Understanding that Carlos’ primary love language is Words of Affirmation was a first step and let’s be clear that acknowledging this is a daily process. I am more cognizant of my actions and how they impact our level of communication which is directly related to true intimacy. I have to be intentional about speaking his love language which is a challenge for me. In full transparency, my mouth can get away from me at times so there are times when my words aren’t encouraging, loving, kind, or uplifting. However, these are the things that fuel him so if I fail to speak his love language by affirming him, I can drive a wedge between us and impair our ability to communicate in a healthy way as husband wife. Speaking Your Husband’s Love Language Wives from my experience, understanding your husband’s love language: Makes him feel like a priority– I know that it makes Carlos feel good when is “seen” by me because I have a million things going on as most women do. However, taking the time to speak his love language can be as simple as me sending a quick text throughout the day to say, “I love you, or thank you, I really appreciate you!”   Strengthens his ability to initiate communication and resolve conflict quickly– If I am not using my words to build Carlos up consistently, he will distance himself from me. Why? Because he doesn’t feel safe emotionally which is very important. If he knows that he can come and talk to me without it becoming a “thing,” he is more willing to initiate communication. Not only that, I’ve noticed that he is quicker to apologize or take responsibility for issues that may arise between us.   Helps him to acknowledge and speak your love language-My love language is Quality Time. Carlos knows that date days/nights, finding moments for us to spend uninterrupted time together, and creating the conditions for this to happen is extremely important to me. I am very quick to affirm him when he makes these opportunities happen. We both fill each other’s cup because my appreciation is a guarantee of future opportunities for quality time.   Carlos and I both have secondary love languages and I personally believe that love languages can be fluid because as people we grow and change. That’s a another blog post for another day but I hope that if you aren’t familiar with your own or your spouse’s love language that you will take the time to explore this topic because it will change the way you communicate with your spouse.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]Learn More About The Five Love Languages here:   The Five Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts

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married couple communicating

The Importance Of Communication In Marriage

Communicate Communicate Communicate! Ranisha Moore-Guest Blogger Everyone says marriage is a lot of work. I do agree that it might not be the easiest at times but it isn’t a lot of work like most people say. I remember when I first got engaged to my husband there were so many negative comments about marriage in general. Now I did receive some genuine congratulatory messages but on the other hand I still had others to say “go girl congratulations but honey you can have being married.” Like, what is that to say to someone that just got engaged!!! Like the old saying goes “not everyone is going to be happy for you,” just be mindful of that! My husband and I dated for five years and this July we will be HAPPILY married for four years. Have there been challenges? Absolutely! But we have learned to work through them. I must say that our main challenge has been communicating and that has been less on his behalf and more so on mine. I myself am a talker and don’t mind talking with my husband but I would only vent if it concerned us and our marriage. However, if something is bothering me outside of our marriage,I would harbor those feelings even though when he would ask me what was wrong, I would respond with “nothing.” I have found that if there are instances where things are bothering me that may not even have anything to do with our marriage, I must talk to my husband about it. If I don’t, it tends to create a problem in our relationship. I now realize and understand that if I can’t talk to anyone else regardless if it concerns our marriage, I should always be able to talk to my husband. Here recently he asked if I was okay and I replied “no I’m not”. It felt so good to just tell him what was going on even though it didn’t concern us. A successful marriage thrives on the open exchange of desires, emotions, feelings and beliefs. Without effective communication in a marriage I personally think that it will lead to a disconnect in many areas of the relationship. Poor communication can create a sense of dissatisfaction, confusion, restlessness and fear between partners. It can also lead both partners to wonder if the other person is being faithful or whether they might have found someone else. When communicating be mindful that not only do you need to communicate negative but also positive thoughts as well. If he looks fine and scrumptious , SIS TELL HIM !!! Never hold anything back. Many may argue this point but YOUR HUSBAND IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. Therefore, your husband should know everything and anything about you. No one should be able to tell your spouse something about you and vice versa.  Communication is the glue that holds marriages together. Do you want your marriage to endure the hard times? Communicate! Communicate! Communicate![/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]   Lover of Christ wife, teacher, entrepreneur, ambassador are just a few of the titles that Ranisha B. Moore holds. Known online as “The Cost Conscious Fashionista” Ranisha Moore is a fashion and beauty influencer where her most recent work has been published at CATO.com, rue21.com, and Wal-Mart. Most recently she has become a motivational speaker and is a active advocate to end domestic violence from where she has her self-survived. She has shared her story with men and women alike at thecostconsciousfashionista.com entitled “Purple Is for Me I Survived.” Her ultimate goal is to use her story of surviving domestic violence, as well as fashion and beauty as a catalyst to empower women to have a positive self-image and confidence. Encouraging them that you can overcome any struggle.   Follow Ranisha at the following : Instagram: @the_cost_conscious-fashionista Facebook: Ranisha Brown Moore Twitter: @ranisha82

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A Few Things I’ve Learned About This Married Life

Wife Life Guest Blogger Series Guest Blogger: Shilene Aaron As I embark on the 7th year of marriage, I can’t help but think about all the high’s, the low’s and the in-betweens.  Some days were all that and other days, tuh, I wished I was single….I’m just saying.  I’m keeping it real.  My marriage has not been a fairytale and I don’t portray it to be.  After the Wedding and honeymoon comes the after-party and real life situations that will test your commitment to each other.   Marriage has been a daily act to keep working on us and choosing to love each other. In case you’re wanting to embark on the marriage life.  Let me share with you 6 things I’ve learned along this marriage journey in my 6 ½ years as a married woman.   1. After God, keep each other first.  Don’t give room for anyONE or anyTHING to come between you two. Whether it’s your children, parents a hobby or a job.  Your spouse comes first! 2.  Respect your Spouse as you want to be respected. Always have your spouse in mind when making decisions or agreements. My husband and I touch base with each other when making decisions that affect each other and our family.  It’s not asking for permission, it’s out of respect as you’re not only responsible for yourself and Marriage is not all about you. 3.  It takes two / both husband and wife to make the marriage work. 100/100 ALL IN!!! Marriage is not a one-sided agreement. You both vowed to love and care for each other, not one always giving and the other doing all the receiving.  There may be times when one is down and the other might have to kick in and do a little more but majority of the time you both should be working to make the marriage work. 4.  Keep others out of your marriage (mom, dad, siblings, in-laws, best friends etc), people will always have something to say from the outside looking in. Some will give unsolicited advice or opinions and others will give wise counsel. Use wisdom to discern who’s for you and who’s against you.  Take the advice that works for you and leave the rest there.  The less they know, the better.  Period. 5. Everyone’s marriage is different.  Don’t compare your marriage to another, don’t compare your spouse to another. You have no clue what they are dealing with behind the scenes or what they have had to deal with to get to the place they are now. Take inventory of your own marriage and do what’s best for you and your spouse. 6. Love is a daily choice. You chose each other as husband and wife and you will always have to keep choosing each other as long as you’re married. Like anything marriage requires maintenance and love requires to be refueled, refined and reignited. A flame doesn’t stay lit on it’s own – keep the fire burning. 7. Communication is key. Over communicate to make sure you stay on the same page. Don’t expect your spouse to know what you’re thinking or how you feel.  Tell them your plans, thoughts and emotions. BONUS: *PRAYER* When you don’t know what to do, say, or if you feel like giving up, be still, pray and let God lead you. This has worked many times over for me.  Marriage is a beautiful thing when you both are willing to make it work!     Hello, my name is Shilene Aaron and I’m a wife, mother of 4, believer, podcaster and I created The Mama Mogul brand because I’m passionate about inspiring women and especially passionate about mothers.  I wanted to create a platform for mothers where they felt comfortable sharing their experiences, struggles and joy within their motherhood journey without judgement.  My mission is to offer a community of support & encouragement  I wish I had early on in my motherhood journey. You can connect with Shilene on Instagram @themamamogul and please tune into The Mama Mogul Podcast at anchor.fm/themamamogul or any of your favorite listening platforms.  If you would like to collaborate please email me at Shilene.aaron@gmail.com.  

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Hyman Party of 2

Guest Blogger: Shiquita Hyman 5 Tips for Wives At Any Stage Hey yall! Though I wrote this blog post nearly three years ago, I still believe that everything in it rings true. I hope that you enjoy! It was on this day exactly two years ago that I married my best friend! The day was absolutely perfect; an unseasonably warm fall day in Charleston, SC. We were surrounded by family and friends who’d traveled from near and far to be with us. We are eternally grateful for the love and support that we experienced on that day. This journey has been one amazing rollercoaster ride, to say the least. I’ve learned so much in these last two years, and am certain there is plenty more to discover. Today, I’d like to share the top five things I’ve learned in my short time as a wife. 🚨Disclaimer🚨: I am not a relationship expert nor do I provide relationship advice (unless you’re one of my girlfriends, then you can get these words!). I am only speaking to what I’ve learned in my own relationship, and what I’ve found to be of importance for my husband and myself. Communicate! Obviously, this one is a no brainer. I’m sure 99% of you guessed this would be on the list before getting to this point. Surprisingly, this is one of the most difficult aspects of being in a relationship for me. My natural instinct is not to talk, but to listen (hello, therapist here 🙋🏽). I’d much rather listen to my husband talk about his needs as opposed to opening up and talking about my own. On the flip side of that, my dear sweet husband sincerely thinks I can read his mind (no, seriously), and he thinks I know everything. He’ll ask me questions he logically knows I don’t know the answer to and genuinely expect me to have an answer (*sitting in traffic* H: “Hey babe, what’s going on up there? W: “Obviously I have no idea. I’m in the car with you!). So, though I’m often ready and willing to hear what he has to say, he already thinks I know it! In this conundrum, we’ve found that keeping the communication alive in our marriage is a concerted effort. It takes both of us checking in with each other daily, asking questions and truly listening. Fight Fair I’m sure some eyes just got wide, but anyone who says they don’t argue with their spouse is lying (yeah, I said it). The fight, however, is not the issue here but rather how you fight.  I’ve learned that hurtful words can linger far longer than I could have ever imagined. As a result, I’m mindful of what I say when my husband and I are in the heat of an argument. Though restraint can be difficult to muster when I’m fired up, I’m cognizant of the ramifications tongue lashing my husband can bring. After all, I CHOSE to enter in this marriage, and I CHOOSE to respect him no matter what the topic of today’s quarrel. Laugh!…A lot! This is by far my favorite thing I’ve learned. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to joke, laugh and make others laugh. It’s no different in my marriage. When my husband and I met, we were very much opposite. Though I’m nearly 2 years his senior, he was much more reserved and mature. I, on the other hand, was the overly gregarious comedian. Over the years, we’ve rubbed off on each other and taken on more of one another’s personalities. We both love to laugh, and are constantly laughing about some benign thing are another when we’re with each other. With every snort and chuckle, our connection and partnership are somehow deepened. My favorite is when we’re able to make a covert reference to a private joke while in public and share a good laugh. So, next time you see us out “kekeing up” (as we like to say), you’ll know what’s up.   Embrace Vulnerability If embracing humor is my most favorite lesson, then this has to be me least. If there’s anything I hate, it’s feeling vulnerable and exposed. I prefer to keep my issues and hurts to myself and process them alone. However, as a wife, I’ve realized that I don’t have this luxury anymore. Yes, I still process before I bringing it to my husband, but I now appreciate how important it is to actually bring my concerns to him. I also appreciate the fact that I need to be a safe place for him to be vulnerable as well. I can’t wholly offer myself as a refuge if I’m not willing to seek the same in him; tying back into the notion of communicating effectively and choosing our words and battles wisely. Support, support, support! If I don’t believe in my husband, someone else will. And vice versa. My husband and I are members of a small group facilitated by our church dedicated to married couples. In one of our sessions, we discussed one of the main reasons spouses often go outside of their marriages; lack of support. You may often hear someone who’s experienced infidelity say he/she wasn’t even that attractive, yet they somehow attracted the attention of their significant other. Now, I in NO way endorse or support infidelity or any excuse for such behavior. But, I can understand the gravity of our innate need to feel supported by our loved ones. So, my husband and I continue to support each other dreams, goals, aspirations and any other harebrained schemes we can contrive (mostly my harebrained schemes 😬). Shiquita Hyman is a South Carolina native, earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Winthrop University and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Francis Marion University.   She decided at a very young age that serving others was her passion, and after 10+ years in the helping profession realized that undertaking this task can manifest in a variety of ways; enter The Unconventional Southern Belle brand. In

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Five Prayers For A Praying Wife

Five Prayers For A Praying Wife inspired by a recent blog post Five Prayers for A Praying Wife Praying for your husband is extremely important but if we are honest, sometimes praying for your husband can be difficult to do.  Last week my sister posted  Five prayers for your husband.   After reading I began thinking about the wife who is praying but feeling like they aren’t getting the results that they are seeking  from God. I’ve been there and I know how frustrating it can be but I have also learned that praying for my husband is more about the work that God is trying to do in me as He does the work in my husband.Speaking from experience, the following five prayers for the praying wife can bring perspective, peace, and change:   Heavenly Father: Thank you for softening my heart so that it does not become hardened towards my husband as I wait for You to perform your perfect work in his life Thank you for helping me to understand that love is an action word not a feeling Thank you for helping me to avoid being led by my feelings as they may change and can at times be deceptive Thank you for revealing to me the ways in which I have not set myself in total agreement with you as you do the work in my husband’s life. Thank you for sustaining me with Your grace to be the wife that my husband needs me to be I have listed two books below that are highly recommended resources by Stormie Ormatian.  Continue seeking, knocking, and and asking according to Matthew 7:7-8 because God hears and answers prayer.   The Power of a Praying Wife The Power of a Praying Wife Devotional

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Five prayers for your husband

This summer my husband and I ventured off to a bed and breakfast for some much needed time together. While looking at the plethora of books in the library I stumbled upon The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. The next day while sunbathing in the hammock I read about specific prayers that we as wives should be praying over our spouses. Instead of doing a book recap, I want to share the current prayers for my husband and hopefully inspire you to do the same. Prayer =  Transparency In a moment of full disclosure…this has probably been one of the toughest seasons that we as a family have had to navigate.  As a result, priorities change, our focus can shift, and instead of pulling together, we pull apart. We pull apart to try and fix it on our own instead of joining together to battle in prayer for our family. While reading her book my eyes opened to the fact that this was occurring in my marriage. I had to make a decision and it started with prayer. Prayer one: Priorities Lord, I pray that___________ will seek you first and your kingdom because your Word says that if we do that then all these things will be given to us. I love the message version which says “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, and God-provisions. You’ll find your everyday human concerns will be met.” Matthew 6:33 My husband is the leader of our family and so oftentimes he can bear the weight of being a great husband, loving father, wonderful provider and the list goes on and on. If not careful he will try to fulfill those roles within his strength which can lead to frustration, anxiety, and burnout. All of those things can eventually trickle down into our families. So we must be diligent in covering our husbands in prayer, particularly in the area of their priorities.   Prayer two: Mind Lord, remind _______to cast his anxiety (worries)on you because you care for him. God’s strong arm is on you: he’ll promote you at the right time. Love carefree before God, he is most careful with you. 1 Peter 5:7 (MSG) Our husbands are not in this alone and they were not built to carry the load by themselves. Their heavenly Father loves them and wants them to lean on Him as well. The root cause of anxiety is fear and fear is the opposite of love. Let’s believe for our spouses to be free from fear and to walk in His love. When they do we along with our children, business partners, office mates, etc will reap the benefits. Prayer three: Focus Lord, it is so easy to get distracted by the pursuit of things, disappointments, and just life! Help_______ to keep his eyes fixed on you. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew, later on, he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne. So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won’t get discouraged and give up. Hebrews 12:2-3 (CEV) Jesus is our great example and endured a lot. In life, we will face good and bad times but through it all, we must look to Him as our source of encouragement and hope. Prayer four: Leadership Lord as ____________ leads our home I pray that he would have the heart of a servant and that he would follow your lead for our family. Our husbands are the fierce leaders of our home. We have been taught to submit and follow our husbands. Leadership for believers is about serving and putting others before oneself. Christ did that for us when He willingly died on the cross for our sins. The prayer for my husband simply comes from Ephesians 5:22-28. Check out the Message Bible version, the translation is so clear because it addresses both the husband and wife.   Prayer five: Intimacy Lord, help us to cling to one another and become one flesh as it says in Genesis 2:24-25 as we seek to please each other joyfully and without shame. Yup…I put it in here. I said it. Intimacy in a marriage is very important and oftentimes an area that the enemy will try to attack to cause division. Division will create confusion which can lead to apathy, resentment, and unspoken frustration. All of these things will hinder your marriage, prayers, and impact for the kingdom. We must remember 1 Corinthians 16:20 that says we are not our own. We were bought with a price and to honor God with our bodies. Bonus prayer: For the wives Lord, I ask that you would help me to live out Ephesians 5:22 and 33 by submitting, respecting, supporting, and understanding my husband in Jesus’ name, Amen. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  Ephesians 5:22 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  Ephesians 5:33 We need to pray specific, Biblical prayers to be the wife God has called us to be for our husbands as well.  Put these prayers to work, trust God, and love your husband.

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Bed and Breakfast: Teammates in Ministry

Bed and Breakfast: Teammates in Ministry In a previous post I discussed ways Ways to reconnect in your marriage.  My husband, Jonathan and I did a weekend getaway to a bed and breakfast 45 minutes from our home in metro Atlanta.  This isn’t your ordinary bed and breakfast, it is a place for couples in ministry to be recharged and refueled.  Jonathan is an assistant pastor at our church and he is a licensed marriage and family therapist.  Therefore he is constantly caring for others.  As a mom and certified athletic trainer I am in the people business as well.  So most of our time is caring for others and not necessarily each other or ourselves.  We both knew that we needed to get away and just spend time with one another.  So we locked down two babysitters, packed our bags and headed to our first weekend getaway in six years. I did not know what to expect but in my mind I had so many expectations and thoughts that I was on pins and needles the entire drive.  When we pulled up to the house we saw a chalkboard sign that read Welcome Jonathan and Felicia.  As soon as we stepped foot out of the car, Dave and Peggy Jones were there to greet us and welcome us to their home.  Dave is a former pastor and Peggy is an interior designer.  They have a heart for couples who serve in ministry and they serve them with such care and love through their gift of hospitality.  We were greeted with hugs and then escorted to our guest suite.   French countryside When we walked in the doors I was blown away by the decor and detail that Peggy so effortlessly put into making the guest quarters charming, inviting and simply beautiful.  The music playing ever so gently in the background was soothing yet very intentional with the lyrics that floated through the air.  Jonathan and I had a nicely apportioned private bedroom, living area, kitchenette and bathroom.  The best part for me was definitely the robe and wool bedroom slippers.  A sweet surprise to our area was the library that was stocked with books and an electric fireplace.  We did not arrive to the house until 8 pm which meant that we missed dinner but they invited us upstairs for dessert. Hospitality As we took our seats Peggy began to list all of the dessert options.  I finally settled on Jeni’s Brown Butter Almond Brittle ice cream with a slice pound cake.  If that weren’t enough there were homemade chocolate chip cookies, vanilla ice cream and chocolate cake as well.  I forgot to mention this earlier but those homemade chocolate chip cookies were in our kitchenette and they were completely gone by 5 pm the next day.  Our night ended with Peggy describing what promised to be a lovely breakfast which would be delivered at 9 am.  After saying goodnight to our lovely hosts we retreated downstairs and stared at one another.  We couldn’t believe what we were experiencing.  The level of hospitality, being served and not having lift a finger was mind blowing.  That night we went to sleep knowing that the next day would be nothing short of amazing. Nature Breakfast was delivered at 9 am.  Jonathan and I were treated to a delicious breakfast casserole, fresh fruit, pastries, jam, eggs and orange juice.   Peggy opened the blinds to a beautiful garden that extended far beyond what the eye could see.  I immediately got dressed and grabbed my books, ear pods and pillow and headed outside.  The garden is filled with plush green shrubs, fountains, a gazebo and towering trees overhead to provide just enough shade from the sun.  I found my way back to hammock, laid back and just stared at the sky.  My mind was clear and I was able to read two books, listen to podcasts and just daydream.  I hopped in the hammock at 10 am and didn’t leave until 2 pm with the exception of bathroom breaks.  The garden is simply peaceful, serene and calming. Fellowship Jonathan and I did something that we rarely get to do……we took at 2.5 hour nap on a Saturday!!!  When we finally woke up it was dinner time and this time we would not miss out on the feast that Peggy had prepared.  We prayed over the meal and dove into great food and conversation.  It had been a minute but Jonathan and I shared how we met and our love story.  Dave and Peggy shared their story as well along with how they took a leap of faith and began their ministry: Teammates in Ministry.  It was a beautiful story of love, connection, encouragement and being intentional.  I could never do it justice within this blog post but I encourage you to find out more. Purpose Jonathan and I left dinner that night with so many thoughts running through our heads.  We were encouraged by this couple who had simply opened up their home, provided world class accommodations and created a space where couples can reconnect and invest in their marriage.  Jonathan and I have been challenged to think about how our marriage could impact others as well because after all a God-centered marriage is a ministry.  Words cannot express how grateful we are to Dave and Peggy for yielding to the purpose that the Lord planned for them.  As a result their ministry continues to flourish and they have impacted over 1500 couples.  We will be back next year. Find out ways that you can support this ministry by visiting: https://teammatesinministry.org/

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Couple in love

3 Simple Ways to Strengthen your Marriage

Great marriages are a product of hard work, attention to detail and much prayer.  With the addition of children, work demands and just life our marriages can become an afterthought.  Overtime this afterthought can lead to a dead, lifeless marriage that becomes a chore instead of a source of joy.  This year my husband and I are on a journey to reassess and reconnect with one another to continue to build a healthy, sustainable marriage.  Check out our simple yet practical tips. Marriage 101: Be intentional In life we are intentional about many things: raising our children, meal prepping, exercising, climbing the corporate ladder, fulfilling our dreams and the list goes on and on.  Can the same be said about our marriage?  We are celebrating 11 years of marital bliss.  We are raising three children under the age of six.  In the early days of child rearing I remember walking around in a fog or coasting on a wave.  Our marriage took a backseat because of everything else on our plates.  Stuck in a rut, our marriage was characterized by a kiss in the morning and evening.   Our conversations centered around the children and our jobs.  We knew something had to give and the first step was to be intentional and strategic in how we do life as husband and wife.  These three tips have helped us along the way: Commit or recommit your marriage to Christ and allow Him to be the center of your relationship Pray with and for your spouse Set aside time for just you and your spouse that is non-negotiable Marriage 101: Unplug In a world of emails, social media, text and even blogging the very thought of being unplugged can send shivers down your spine.  Trust me the shivers are worth every moment that you are able to reclaim with your spouse.  Here are four tips to help you unplug: Establish an agreement that you will be device free during the duration of your time together. Put all electronic devices in a location that is not easily accessible. Remove tempting apps from your phone such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – at least for the duration of your time together. If you must use your device set a time and time limit in which you can use your devices. My husband and I went away for a weekend and we made a commitment to being unplugged.  The first two hours were hard.  Not because we did not want to spend time with one another but because we are creatures of habit.   We had to “rewire” our brains and remember why we chose to spend to time together.  Once the initial shock wore off we settled into a groove and our focus turned towards each other. Marriage 101: Be an active listener Active or purposeful listening requires that we lay aside our agendas, our solutions and self to be fully engaged in what our spouse has to say.  My husband is a therapist by trade and so this come easily for him but not so much for me.  I like to check off lists and get to the bottom line which is great for my job but not so great for our marriage.  I had to learn how to be an active listener by taking the time to understand, empathize and support my husband in what he says.  Does this mean I never offer advice or my perspective?  No, but my priorities have changed.   I chose to understand his perspective before trying to get him to agree to my mine. The three steps below have helped me become a better listener. Listen before you speak Resist the urge to try and solve a problem Sit close, be engaged Related: The Importance Of Communication In Marriage   These are just a few tools that we are using to make sure that marriage remains happy and healthy, especially during these uncertain times.  We would love to hear from you about your tips for a successful marriage.

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5 Tips to Help Married Couples Rethink Date Night

As a new wife I made many rookie mistakes but one mistake in particular lead to devastating consequences. I found myself caught in the comparison trap and I would nag about how infrequent my husband gave thought to our time spent together. I always felt like date night had to be some super romantic occurrence that would require him to turn into Prince Charming who would ride in on a horse and carriage to pick me up and cart me away to find my silver slipper. Boy did I have it wrong! I ended up driving a wedge between us because he felt that I did not accept him for who he was as my husband. This then lead to a downward spiral in our marriage because we both felt unappreciated. Communication broke down and date night was non-existent. How I Am Learning to Love Again The blog post entitled “How I Am Learning To Love Again” shares how we are fighting our way back to each other and I have received a few questions about what this looks like. Prioritizing our dating life is at the top of our “to-do” list. It is a necessity but rethinking our dating life has really helped us to ensure that we are intentional about making time for each other. We have a goal of getting out together at least once a month. Sometimes we exceed this goal and sometimes we reach it by the skin of our teeth but we work together to make the goal a reality.   So how do I rethink Date Night Danielle? I am so glad you asked! Tip #1: Get rid of unrealistic expectations and focus on what works for YOUR marriage Date Night may become Date Day. Date Night or Day may become a time for handling household business or running errands (ie. Walmart/Sam’s Club/Grocery Run). Consider the fact that you are together and make the best of those moments to talk, laugh, and let your hair down around each other. Tip #2: Schedule Your Time Together We literally put two dates on the calendar per month based around other obligations. We both have hobbies and things that we like to do in addition to spending time with our guy/girl pals, which is also important. Then there’s Madison’s schedule AND finding childcare. Scheduling our time has been a game changer for us because we walk past the calendar that we use to schedule things everyday so we have a constant reminder to make things happen. Tip #3: Plan The Activity in Advance I am not dismissing the importance of spontaneity and creativity but I have learned that if there is something that I am interested in doing during our time together, I ask Carlos to consider it and he does the same. Communication is very important and planning our time together helps us to ensure that we are making equitable decisions. Tip #4 Be Flexible and Willing To Compromise Carlos is a sports fan. I am NOT.  He has recently taken a huge interest in playing golf. He actually played in a tournament last weekend and a little birdie (my father-in-law who was on his team) told me that he played really well. He wants to take me on a date to the golf range so that I can “see his skills.” The first thing that came to my mind was the heat. I am also not a fan of hot weather. However, I quickly came to my senses and considered how important this is to him. I also considered how he has supported me in my decision to begin blogging and how he has willingly taken photos, listened to my writing, and invested in my new interest financially. So I will brave the heat this time just so I can see his squirm when I drag him to get a pedicure on our next date! Tip #5 Don’t Complicate Things Relax. Have fun. Value the time you will spend with each other. Ultimately dating your spouse should be enjoyable. It should help create deeper intimacy and it should increase the level of communication within your marriage. The possibilities are endless from binge watching Netflix in your PJs to splurging on a romantic dinner at a five star establishment. We should view every experience as an opportunity to grow closer to our spouse.   I hope these tips helps. Each tip has been tested and tried by yours truly! Happy dating and above all else never underestimate the importance of dating your spouse.

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